National Disability Employment Awareness Month is October, and Microsoft has revealed several new Xbox accessibility features. There are over 400,000 handicapped video game players in the United States, yet it’s easy to ignore some of the ways that simple improvements may make their gaming experience more pleasurable or even feasible.
Because impairments vary so greatly in kind and severity, it might be difficult for game creators to define a set of fundamental accessibility features that covers the demands of the majority of handicapped players.
With the Kinect accessory for Xbox 360, a motion detecting device that allowed users to operate Xbox consoles with their bodies or voices, Microsoft took steps to enhance accessibility for gamers as early as 2010.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller, which was developed with input from the handicapped community and introduced in 2018, raised even more awareness of the need of making gaming accessible to all players and sparked debate on what further might be done to make the enjoyable hobby accessible to all. As a result, the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines were created, as well as features like Copilot, which allows two controllers to work as one.
Microsoft has published a video showcasing some of the new accessibility features for Xbox gaming on console and PC that the firm has been working on. Some of them are basic but important enhancements, such as adding metadata tags to games on the Microsoft Store so that gamers can see at a glance if a game has the accessibility features they require.
The Xbox menu’s Ease of Access area has been renamed Accessibility, and it already contains a number of functions, with more on the way. Night Mode decreases the brightness of both the display and the controller, and it can be adjusted to your preferences. There are also color filters that can be adjusted to help players with different forms of color blindness, such as deuteranopia or tritanopia, making games more accessible to everyone.
The movie included a variety of testimonies from handicapped gamers who discussed how accessibility features had influenced their games. For many people, impairments can lead to social isolation, and video games can be a fun way to meet new people.
As a result, it may be aggravating when games, or even the console itself, fail to give the essential tools to enable them to play. “To me, gaming accessibility is about enjoying a game without any restrictions or struggling,” one participant said in the video.
Game creators that wish to include more accessibility features in their games might get help from Xbox. This involves making materials available to help people understand what accessibility is and how to develop accessible experiences on a technical level. The Xbox Accessibility Guidelines are a set of best practices for UI navigation, haptic feedback, difficulty settings, screen narration, and visual distractions.
Microsoft’s attempts to make its gaming platform more accessible to handicapped people go beyond that. In a typical interview environment, some people find it particularly difficult to “sell” themselves. As a result, the firm now has a Neurodiversity Hiring Program that allows job candidates to exhibit their credentials and abilities using Minecraft, allowing applicants in the final round of interviews to play the game together to demonstrate their skills and teamwork.