It’s that time of the year again. There is snow on the ground, happiness in our hearts and games on our brains. This year the AbleGamers Foundation is making the nomination process for the AbleGamers Mainstream Accessible Game of the Year Award public.
Our staff is hard at work debating the pros and cons of each game. While we continue the selection process, we wanted to give you a look at our list of this year's most accessible games.
Sports games are notoriously inaccessible. With numerous buttons, complicated controls and little PC support, sports titles are often left completely out of Accessible Game of the Year consideration. However, FIFA 13 changes all of that with PC support, zero hearing issues that affect the gameplay, colorblind considerations and the ability to play assistive technology, controllers, standard keyboards or with only the mouse.
A turn-based strategy game with accessibility options galore. Gamers with disabilities that are precluded from normal means of controlling games can play XCOM: Enemy Unknown with the greatest of ease. Assistive technology works, no colorblind issues, mouse friendly and fully subtitled gameplay are just some of the points this game brings to the table.
Perhaps one of the more controversial choices, Forza Horizons took a few steps backwards in accessibility according to our reviewers from its counterpart that won Accessible Mainstream Game of the Year a while back. But field tests discovered by our founder demonstrated gamers using assistive technology such as the Adroit actually had an easier time playing the game due to the street racing style of inner-city tracks.
Our first Indie game nomination in the history of our Accessible Game of the Year Award. Colour Bind has become the textbook example of an indie developer going out of his way to make a game accessible. By investigating colorblind options and seeking advice on accessibility, the developer proves the outreach of game accessibility is working. This is a simple yet fun game that tries to tackle the accessibility for all gamers, even the ones that might be left out due to the nature of the game itself.
The biggest title to make our list this year, Guild wars 2 is fully accessible to the hearing-impaired, visually impaired and mostly accessible to the mobility impaired. Although we have received reports that Arena Net purposefully removed click-to-move and intentionally keeps the sensitivity of the camera low to add “dramatic flair,” we have not found conclusive evidence and the developers have declined to comment. We are giving them the benefit of the doubt and hoping that no game company would deny a segment of the disabled gaming community over “creative choices.”
One of the most breathtakingly beautiful games published in some time, Journey is an accessible title that keeps focus on remaining accessible and targeting an underserved adventure market. This game is for gamers that wish to enjoy the journey (no pun intended) as opposed to racing to the endgame as quick as possible.
For every game that is accessible, there is another game that had potential and fell short. The following are some of the most disappointing titles of the year.
As one of the most disappointing games this year, in more ways than one, Diablo 3 has been critically panned for taking too much time to reproduce a Diablo 2 reboot. Despite all that, we actually gave D3 a pretty decent score, but it leaves out enough of the disabled community to disqualify this title as accessible game. If you can't use a mouse, you can't play D3 and for that alone it was an extreme disappointment. We hope when Diablo 4 is released in 2025 Blizzard enables keyboarding and assistive technology for those who need it. This game underscores the importance of reading an entire accessibility review and not just looking at the score.
As far as shooting games go, the newest Call of Duty iteration is actually quite accessible. With mouse sensitivity, joystick sensitivity, remapability on the PC and multiple configurations on the Xbox, BLOPs 2 did a lot of things right. Also including an actual setting labeled “colorblind.” But first person shooters still have a way to go before they can be considered accessible. Mandatory mouse and keyboard input, up to 9 different key combinations needed at any one time, fast reaction times needed and often very difficult visual areas make this game inaccessible to a large segment of the disabled gaming community.
Universally heralded the one most anticipated games of the year, AC3 has some of the most complex and difficult controls of any game this year. While games like Dishonored and Skyrim have proven that you can use simple controls in an open world environment, AC3 made things difficult when nearly impossible for those with motor impairments, visual disorders and cognitive concerns. Even some of our more able-bodied reviewers criticized Assassins Creed 3 for its complex and old-school controls.
Two of our reviewers saw this game as a demo on the road this year and personally looked over the game at PAX-E before we got a chance to do our official review. Either way, fast reaction times, complex scenarios and difficult controls excluded Borderlands 2 from this year's list. Although the different class combinations and skill sets will be a positive for some, for others this game is completely unplayable.