Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Game accessibility: a survey

Abstract

Over the last three decades, video games have evolved from a pastime into a force of change that is transforming the way people perceive, learn about, and interact with the world around them. In addition to entertainment, games are increasingly used for other purposes such as education or health. Despite this increased interest, a significant number of people encounter barriers when playing games due to a disability. Accessibility problems may include the following: (1) not being able to receive feedback; (2) not being able to determine in-game responses; (3) not being able to provide input using conventional input devices. This paper surveys the current state-of-the-art in research and practice in the accessibility of video games and points out relevant areas for future research. A generalized game interaction model shows how a disability affects ones ability to play games. Estimates are provided on the total number of people in the United States whose ability to play games is affected by a disability. A large number of accessible games are surveyed for different types of impairments, across several game genres, from which a number of high- and low-level accessibility strategies are distilled for game developers to inform their design.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7

References

  1. 1.

    Secondlife. http://www.secondlife.com. Last Accessed October 2008

  2. 2.

    Adamo-Villani, N., Wright, K.: Smile: an immersive learning game for deaf and hearing children. In: SIGGRAPH ’07: ACM SIGGRAPH 2007 educators program, p. 17. ACM, New York (2007)

  3. 3.

    Aldrich, C.: Virtual worlds, simulations, and games for education: a unifying view. Innov. J. Online Educ. 5(5) (2009)

  4. 4.

    Atkinson, M.T., Gucukoglu, S., Machin, C.H.C., Lawrence, A.E.: Making the mainstream accessible: redefining the game. In: Sandbox ’06: Proceedings of the 2006 ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Videogames, pp. 21–28. ACM, New York (2006)

  5. 5.

    Barrass, S., Kramer, G.: Using sonification. Multimed. Syst. 7(1), 23–31 (1999)

  6. 6.

    Bierre, K., Ellis, B., Hinn, M., Ludi, S., Westin, T.: Whitepaper: Game Not Over: Accessibility Issues in Video Games. http://www.igda.org/accessibility/hcii2005_gac.pdf (2005)

  7. 7.

    Brashear, H., Henderson, V., Park, K.-H., Hamilton, H., Lee, S., Starner, T.: American sign language recognition in game development for deaf children. In: Assets ’06: Proceedings of the 8th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 79–86. ACM, New York (2006)

  8. 8.

    Brewster, S.A., Wright, P.C., Edwards, A.D.N.: An evaluation of earcons for use in auditory human-computer interfaces. In: CHI ’93: Proceedings of the INTERACT ’93 and CHI ’93 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 222–227. ACM, New York (1993)

  9. 9.

    Carter, W.S., Corona, G.D.: Exploring Methods of Accessing Virtual Worlds. http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?docid=aw090207. Last Accessed Oct 2008

  10. 10.

    Cavender, A., Trewin, S., Hanson, V.: General writing guidelines for technology and people with disabilities. SIGACCESS Access. Comput. 92, 17–22 (2008)

  11. 11.

    Correia, L.: Jet boarder. http://www.leandrocorreia.com/jetboardere.htm (2008). Last Accessed May 2008

  12. 12.

    Crawford, C.: Chris Crawford on Game Design. New Riders Games, June 2003

  13. 13.

    Dawe, M.: Desperately seeking simplicity: how young adults with cognitive disabilities and their families adopt assistive technologies. In: CHI ’06: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1143–1152. ACM, New York (2006)

  14. 14.

    Deaf Gamers: Deaf gamers, game reviews for auditory impaired. http://www.deafgamers.com (2000). Last Accessed March 2009

  15. 15.

    DeMarco, T.: Controlling Software Projects: Management, Measurement, and Estimates. Prentice Hall PTR, Upper Saddle River (1986)

  16. 16.

    DISTAT: Disability statistics compendium. http://www.unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/scon/cerns/disability/ (1990). Last Accessed Dec 2008

  17. 17.

    DTI: From Exuberant Youth to Sustainable Maturity: Competitive Analysis of the UK Games Software Sector. Technical report, DTI (2002)

  18. 18.

    Dwyer, P., VanLund, P.: The Last Crusade. http://www.cs.unc.edu/research/assist/et/projects/rpg/index.html (2008). Last Accessed Aug 2008

  19. 19.

    Ellison, B.: Analyst: Only 4% of Games are Profitable. http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/56053 (2008). Last Accessed March 2009

  20. 20.

    ESA: Entertainment Software Association. http://www.theesa.com/facts/gameplayer.asp (2008). Last Accessed Sept 2008

  21. 21.

    ESA: Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry 2008. http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/esa_ef_2008.pdf (2008). Last Accessed March 2009

  22. 22.

    ESRB: The Entertainment Software Rating Board. http://www.esrb.org/ratings/index.jsp (2008). Last Accessed Sept 2008

  23. 23.

    Feng, J., Lazar, J., Kumin, L., Ozok, A.: Computer usage by young individuals with down syndrome: an exploratory study. In: Assets ’08: Proceedings of the 10th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 35–42. ACM, New York (2008)

  24. 24.

    Finnerty, H.: Branston and the Lost Machine. http://www.donationcoder.com/contests/agame/entries/branston/branston.swf (2008). Last Accessed April 2008

  25. 25.

    Folmer, E.: Usability patterns in games. In: Future Play ’06: Proceedings of the 2006 Conference (2006)

  26. 26.

    Folmer, E.: Component based game development—a solution to escalating costs and expanding deadlines? In: 10th International ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on Component-Based Software Engineering, pp. 66–73, Medford (2007)

  27. 27.

    Folmer, E., Yuan, B., Carr, D., Sapre, M.: Textsl: a command-based virtual world interface for the visually impaired. In: 11th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 59–66 (2009)

  28. 28.

    Friberg, J., Gärdenfors, D.: Audio games: new perspectives on game audio. In: ACE ’04: Proceedings of the 2004 ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, pp. 148–154. ACM, New York (2004)

  29. 29.

    Gee, J.P.: What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Palgrave Macmillan (2003, May)

  30. 30.

    Glinert, E., Wyse, L.: Audiodyssey: an accessible video game for both sighted and non-sighted gamers. In: Future Play ’07: Proceedings of the 2007 Conference, pp. 251–252. ACM, New York (2007)

  31. 31.

    GMA: Shades of Doom. http://www.gmagames.com/sod.html (2008). Last Accessed Sept 2008

  32. 32.

    GMA: Tank Commander. http://www.gmagames.com/ gtc1.shtml (2008). Last Accessed June 2008

  33. 33.

    Grammenos, D.: Game over: learning by dying. In: CHI ’08: Proceeding of the 26th Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1443–1452. ACM, New York (2008)

  34. 34.

    Grammenos, D., Georgalis, Y.: Ua-chess: a universally accessible board game. In: 3rd International Conference on Universal Access in Human Computer Interaction. Lawrence Erlbaum (2005)

  35. 35.

    Grammenos, D., Savidis, A., Georgalis, Y., Stephanidis, C.: Access invaders: Developing a universally accessible action game. In: Miesenberger, K., Klaus, J., Zagler, W.L., Karshmer, A.I. (eds.) ICCHP: International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs, vol. 4061 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pp. 388–395. Springer (2006)

  36. 36.

    Griffiths, M.D., Davies, M.N.O., Chappell, D.: Breaking the stereotype: the case of online gaming. Cyber Psychol. Behav. 6(1), 81–91 (2003)

  37. 37.

    Guitar Hero. http://www.guitarhero.com/ (2008). Last Accessed May 2008

  38. 38.

    Harada, S., Landay, J.A., Malkin, J., Li, X., Bilmes, J.A.: The vocal joystick: evaluation of voice-based cursor control techniques. In: Assets ’06: Proceedings of the 8th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 197–204. ACM, New York (2006)

  39. 39.

    Hoang, R., Franklin, C., Folmer, E.: Gordon’s Trigger Finger, One Switch First Person Shooter. http://www.gtf.eelke.com (2008)

  40. 40.

    Igarashi, T., Hughes, J.F.: Voice as sound: using non-verbal voice input for interactive control. In: UIST ’01: Proceedings of the 14th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, pp. 155–156. ACM, New York (2001)

  41. 41.

    IGDA-SIG: Igda Game Accessibility White Paper. Technical report, 2004. Last Accessed Dec 2008

  42. 42.

    IGDA-SIG: International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Game Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG). http://www.igda.org/accessibility (2007). Last Accessed Feb 2009

  43. 43.

    Ince, S.: Writing for Video Games. A&C Black (2006)

  44. 44.

    Inspired Code: Music Tetris. http://www.inspiredcode.net/metris.htm (2008). Last Accessed May 2008

  45. 45.

    Jenkins, H.: Game Theory: How should We Teach Kids Newtonian Physics? Simple, Play Computer Games. Available at http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/wo_jenkins032902.asp Technol. Rev. 3, 2002

  46. 46.

    Kebritchi, M., Hirumi, A.: Examining the pedagogical foundations of modern educational computer games. Comput. Educ. 51(4), 1729–1743 (2008)

  47. 47.

    Kimball, R.: Doom3 cc. http://www.gamescc.rbkdesign.com/ (2008). Last Accessed Aug 2008

  48. 48.

    Kitchen, J.: Mach 1 Car Racing. http://www.kitchensinc.net/ (2008). Last Accessed Aug 2008

  49. 49.

    Kondo, M.: Namco Bandai’s Takasu Says PS3 Game Titles must sell 500,000. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=az3nei1ejui8&refer=japan (2006). Last Accessed March 2009

  50. 50.

    Kwekkeboom, B., van Well, I.: Ilbo. http://www.game-accessibility.com/index.php?pagefile=ilbo (2002). Last Accessed March 2009

  51. 51.

    KYEnterprises: Mouth-Operated Joysticks for Quadriphlegics. http://www.quadcontro.com (2008). Last Accessed Sept 2008

  52. 52.

    Lebling, D., Blank, M.: Infocom Games, Zork I. http://www.infocom-if.org/games/zork1/zork1.html (1980). Last Accessed June 2008

  53. 53.

    Lewis, C.: Hci and cognitive disabilities. Interactions 13(3), 14–15 (2006)

  54. 54.

    Maxis: The Sims. http://www.thesims2.ea.com/ (2009). Last Accessed March 2009

  55. 55.

    Miller, D., Parecki, A., Douglas, S.A.: Finger dance: a sound game for blind people. In: Assets ’07: Proceedings of the 9th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 253–254. ACM, New York (2007)

  56. 56.

    Mobahi, H., Karahalios, K.G.: Hci applications for aiding children with mental disorders. Crossroads 12(2), 3–3 (2005)

  57. 57.

    Mohamed, A.O., Courboulay, V., Sehaba, K., Menard, M.: Attention analysis in interactive software for children with autism. In: Assets ’06: Proceedings of the 8th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 133–140. ACM, New York (2006)

  58. 58.

    Natural Point: Trackir 4: The Premium Optical Head Tracker. http://www.naturalpoin.com/trackir/ (1997). Last Accessed March 2009

  59. 59.

    BBC News: Brain Waves Control Videogames. http://www.news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3485918.stm (2004). Last Accessed May 2008

  60. 60.

    Nielsen, J., Molich, R.: Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces. In: CHI ’90: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 249–256. ACM, New York (1990)

  61. 61.

    Norte, S., Lobo, F.G.: Sudoku access: a sudoku game for people with motor disabilities. In: Assets ’08: Proceedings of the 10th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 161–168. ACM, New York (2008)

  62. 62.

    NPD Group: Playing Video Games Viewed as Family/Group Activity and Stress Reducer. http://www.npd.com/press/releases/press_071212.html (2007, Dec). Last Accessed May 2008

  63. 63.

    Ohring, P.: Web-based multi-player games to encourage flexibility and social interaction in high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorder. In: IDC ’08: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children, pp. 171–172. ACM, New York (2008)

  64. 64.

    Oren, M.A.: Speed sonic across the span: building a platform audio game. In: CHI ’07: CHI ’07 Extended Abstracts on Human factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2231–2236. ACM, New York (2007)

  65. 65.

    Ossmann, R., Miesenberger, K., Archambault, D.: A computer game designed for all. In: ICCHP ’08: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs, pp. 585–592. Springer, Berlin (2008)

  66. 66.

    Page, J.: Tiny Island Nation Opens the First Real Embassy in Virtual World. http://www.technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article1832158.ece (2007). Last Accessed June 2007

  67. 67.

    Pascale, M. Mulatto, S., Prattichizzo, D.: Bringing haptics to second life for visually impaired people. In: EuroHaptics ’08: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Haptics, pp. 896–905. Springer, Berlin (2008)

  68. 68.

    Perkins, W.J., Stenning, B.F.: Control units for operation of computers by severely physically handicapped persons. J. Med. Eng. Technol. 10(1), 21–23 (1986)

  69. 69.

    Piper, A.M., O’Brien, E., Morris, M.R., Winograd, T.: Sides: a cooperative tabletop computer game for social skills development. In: CSCW ’06: Proceedings of the 2006 20th Anniversary Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 1–10. ACM, New York (2006)

  70. 70.

    Reuters: IBM Accelerates Push Into 3d Virtual Worlds. http://www.secondlife.reuters.com/stories/2006/11/09/ibm-accelerates-push-into-3d-virtual-worlds/ (2006). Last Accessed Dec 2006

  71. 71.

    Ritualistic: The Sims. http://www.ritualistic.com/games.php/sineps/faq/index.inc.php (2006). Last Accessed March 2009

  72. 72.

    Robbins, S.S.: Immersion and engagement in a virtual classroom: using second life for higher education. In: EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Spring 2007 Focus Session, 2007

  73. 73.

    Roden, T., Parberry, I.: Designing a narrative-based audio only 3d game engine. In: ACE ’05: Proceedings of the 2005 ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, pp. 274–277. ACM, New York (2005)

  74. 74.

    Rosenberg, L., Brave, S.: Using force feedback to enhance human performance in graphical user interfaces. In: CHI ’96: Conference Companion on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 291–292. ACM, New York (1996)

  75. 75.

    Sánchez, J., Baloian, N., Hassler, T., Hoppe, U.: Audiobattleship: blind learners collaboration through sound. In: CHI ’03: CHI ’03 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 798–799. ACM, New York (2003)

  76. 76.

    Saunders, K., Novak, J.: Game Development Essentials: Game Interface Design. Thomson Delmar Learning (2006)

  77. 77.

    Schiesel, S.: From the Creator of Bejeweled, Another Digital Diversion from the Days Work. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/18/arts/television/18pegg.html (2008). Last Accessed Feb 2009

  78. 78.

    Sehaba, K., Estraillier, P., Lambert, D.: Interactive Educational Games for Autistic Children with Agent-Based System. Springer, Berlin (2005)

  79. 79.

    Sehaba, K., Estraillier, P.: Game execution control by analysis of player’s behavior. In: ACE ’06: Proceedings of the 2006 ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, p. 19. ACM, New York (2006)

  80. 80.

    Simpson, R.C., Koester, H.H.: Adaptive one-switch row-column scanning. IEEE Trans. Rehabil. Eng. 7(4), 464–473 (1999)

  81. 81.

    Smith, J.D., Graham, T.C.N.: Use of eye movements for video game control. In: ACE ’06: Proceedings of the 2006 ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, p. 20. ACM, New York (2006)

  82. 82.

    Sporka, A.J., Kurniawan, S.H., Mahmud, M., Slavík, P.: Non-speech input and speech recognition for real-time control of computer games. In: Assets ’06: Proceedings of the 8th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 213–220. ACM, New York (2006)

  83. 83.

    Spring, H.: One Switch Frogger. http://www.havsoft.co.uk/one%20switch.htm (2005). Last Accessed May 2008

  84. 84.

    Squire, K.: Changing the game: what happens when video games enter the classroom? Innov. J. Online Educ. 1(6) (2005)

  85. 85.

    Generation Stars and Danny Boyd. One switch mini golf. http://www.oneswitch.org.uk/2/sd-sport.htm (2005). Last Accessed April 2008

  86. 86.

    Steriadis, C.E., Constantinou, P.: Designing human-computer interfaces for quadriplegic people. ACM Trans. Comput. Hum. Interact. 10(2), 87–118 (2003)

  87. 87.

    Street, R.L., Gold, W.R., Manning, T. (eds.): Interactive Video Games for Health Promotion: Effects on Knowledge, Self-Efficacy, Social Support, and Health. Lawrence Erlbaum (1997)

  88. 88.

    Teague, D.: Give me That Online Religion. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18789168 (2007). Last Accessed May 2007

  89. 89.

    Media Lunde Tollefsen: Guidelines for Developing Accessible Games. Based on Guidelines Defined by Medialt and Igda (2006)

  90. 90.

    Trewin, S., Laff, M., Hanson, V., Cavender, A.: Exploring visual and motor accessibility in navigating a virtual world. ACM Trans. Access. Comput. 2(2), 1–35 (2009)

  91. 91.

    Ubisoft: Xiii. http://www.ubi.com/us/games/info.aspx?pid=39 (2003). Last Accessed May 2008

  92. 92.

    US CensusBureau: Statistics on Disability. http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/disability/disability.html (2002). Last Accessed March 2008

  93. 93.

    US Government: 1998 amendment to section 508 of the rehabilitation act. In: SEC. 508. Electronic and Information Technology (1998)

  94. 94.

    Valve: Source SDK, Valve Developer Community. http://www.developer.valvesoftware.com (2006). Last Accessed March 2009

  95. 95.

    Valve: Half-Life 2. http://www.orange.half-life2.com/hl2.html (2008). Last Accessed Aug 2008

  96. 96.

    van Tol, R.: Gaming with an Auditory Disability. http://www.game-accessibility.com/index.php?pagefile=auditory (2006). Last Accessed May 2008

  97. 97.

    van Welie, M., van der Veer, G.C., Eliëns, A.: Patterns as tools for user interface design. In: International Workshop on Tools for Working with Guidelines, pp. 313–324, Biarritz (2000)

  98. 98.

    W3C: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. http://www.w3.org/tr/wcag20/ (2008). Last Accessed March 2009

  99. 99.

    WAI: Web Accessibility Initiative. http://www.web-game.co.uk/accessible-games/ (2008). Last Accessed Oct 2008

  100. 100.

    Walker, E., Stanfield, S., Alfieri, B., McGarry, C.: Strange Attractors 1. http://www.ominousdev.com/games.htm (2008). Last Accessed Feb 2009

  101. 101.

    Westin, T.: Game accessibility case study: terraformers—a real-time 3d graphic game. In: Proceedings of the the 5th International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technologies (2004)

  102. 102.

    White, G.R., Fitzpatrick, G., McAllister, G.: Toward accessible 3d virtual environments for the blind and visually impaired. In: DIMEA ’08: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Digital Interactive Media in Entertainment and Arts, pp. 134–141. ACM, New York (2008)

  103. 103.

    Wikipedia: Video Game Genres. http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/video_game_genres (2008). Last Accessed Aug 2008

  104. 104.

    Winters, T., Folmer, E.: Torque CC—Closed Captioning Component for the Torque Engine. http://www.garagegames.com/community/resources/view/13437 (2008). Last Accessed March 2009

  105. 105.

    Yi, M.: They Got Game Stacks of New Releases for Hungry Video Game Enthusiasts Mean it’s Boom Time for an Industry Now Even Bigger than Hollywood. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2004/12/18/mnguoae36i1.dtl (2006)

  106. 106.

    Yuan, B., Folmer, E.: Blind hero: enabling guitar hero for the visually impaired. In: Assets ’08: Proceedings of the 10th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, pp. 169–176. ACM, New York (2008)

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Bei Yuan.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Yuan, B., Folmer, E. & Harris, F.C. Game accessibility: a survey. Univ Access Inf Soc 10, 81–100 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10209-010-0189-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Game accessibility
  • Disability
  • Strategy
  • Impairment