What assumptions are you making about your users and their abilities? While one can have good intentions, are we always aware of how we might unintentionally create barriers for them?
These were some of the questions Naughty Dog Game Director Matthew Gallant made the audience ask themselves during his talk "Designing Games for Everyone" at FBTB23.
Several years ago, the game studio Naughty Dog was contacted by a player about an issue in one of the games in the studio's popular action-adventure franchise Uncharted.
The player had a disability affecting his fine motor skills, which made it impossible for him to get past a section in the game that required repeatedly pressing one of the gamepad buttons for a couple of seconds.
While the button-mashing design choice was meant to be fun and challenging for players, it forced him to quit playing the game he otherwise enjoyed.
Industry leaders in video game accessibility
Since then, Naughty Dog has become the industry leader in video game accessibility. The Last of Us: Part II, the successful and critically acclaimed follow-up to the studios massive 2013 hit The Last of Us, introduced new groundbreaking and award-winning accessibility settings that Matthew co-headed. These settings have since then been improved further in The Last of Us: Part I, the 2022 ground-up remake of the 2013 original for PlayStation 5.
Disability is a design choice.
– A thought-worthy claim from Matthew Gallant during his talk.
In his talk at the From Business to Buttons conference in 2023, Matthew brings up why it's crucial to start working on accessibility early and to include people with disabilities in the design process. He also shows us how to kill a bloater while playing the game with his eyes closed (now that's impressive!).