S. Korea's Gaming Industry Enhances Accessibility for Players with Disabilities | Be Korea-savvy

S. Korea’s Gaming Industry Enhances Accessibility for Players with Disabilities

A disabled individual is seen in this Microsoft Corp-provided photo playing a video game using the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

A disabled individual is seen in this Microsoft Corp-provided photo playing a video game using the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

SEOUL, June 6 (Korea Bizwire)South Korea’s video game industry, expanding its global reach beyond Asia and into the Western market, is now recognizing the importance of game accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

NCSOFT Corp., a major online and mobile game developer, has incorporated new accessibility features into its recently concluded beta testing of the multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG) titled “Throne & Liberty” (TL), according to industry sources.

These additions include a “correction for color blindness” option and a “photosensitivity” option.

The “correction for color blindness” feature enables players with color vision abnormalities, such as color blindness and deuteranopia, to easily distinguish color differences on the game screen.

Meanwhile, the “photosensitivity” option adjusts the intensity of light effects within the game to accommodate users with photosensitive seizure syndrome, a condition that causes seizures upon exposure to rapidly flashing lights.

Notably, TL stands as a pioneer by incorporating such accessibility options.

In an effort to emphasize the importance of game accessibility, NCSOFT’s Game Design Lab has recently formulated development guidelines aimed at promoting accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

These guidelines encourage developers to consider accessibility across various aspects, including video, audio, controls, interfaces, and communication during the game development process.

Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox Adaptive Controller

Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox Adaptive Controller

A spokesperson from NCSOFT affirmed that the company plans to introduce even more diverse and advanced accessibility options upon the official release of TL.

Furthermore, they expressed the intention to incorporate similar features into future games, as well as existing ones.

Another South Korean game studio Smilegate Holdings Inc. established a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) office last year.

The office completed accessibility training in collaboration with the U.S.-based nonprofit AbleGamers Charity and created a comprehensive checklist for development organizations to adopt during the game creation process.

These efforts were implemented in the highly acclaimed virtual reality (VR) shooter “Sierra Squad,” which Smilegate recently released to the global market in anticipation of a summer launch this year.

A representative from Smilegate emphasized that, in addition to incorporating relevant options, careful consideration was given to the game’s design.

Notably, the design ensured that crucial elements within the game were not solely reliant on red or green colors, allowing players with color vision abnormalities to progress seamlessly.

Additionally, measures were taken to ensure that individuals with hearing impairments faced no obstacles while playing the game.

Kakao Games Corp., known for its mobile games “Friends Pop” and “Friends Popcorn,” also prioritizes accessibility by providing options that cater to individuals with color vision abnormalities.

Moreover, the company is collaborating with the National Rehabilitation Center to support the use of assistive devices, aiming to enhance game accessibility for disabled individuals.

Sony PlayStation's Project Leonardo is a new controller to allow more people access to games.

Sony PlayStation’s Project Leonardo is a new controller to allow more people access to games.

Although the focus on accessibility in the Korean game industry is relatively new, North America and Europe have long embraced game development practices that consider the needs of individuals with disabilities.

A prime example is “The Last of Us Part 2,” developed by the American company Naughty Dog LLC, which offers over 60 accessibility settings tailored to individuals with visual, hearing, behavioral, and physical disabilities.

These settings include enhanced contrast and color options for individuals with low vision, as well as voice-over descriptions of in-game items and current situations.

Another notable game, “God of War Ragnarok,” developed by Santa Monica Studio and released last year, garnered acclaim for its extensive range of accessibility options.

The game was honored with the Accessibility Innovation Award at The Game Awards, often likened to the Oscars of the gaming industry.

Looking ahead, Blizzard Entertainment Inc.’s highly anticipated “Diablo 4,” set to launch on June 6, features a built-in voice-to-text feature capable of reading the game’s extensive text.

Furthermore, advancements in gaming controllers have greatly increased accessibility for individuals with mobility impairments.

In 2018, Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox console introduced an “adaptive controller” designed for gamers who find it difficult to play while holding a gamepad in their hands.

Lina Jang (linajang@koreabizwire.com)

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