Game categories for visually impaired
When the graphical capabilities in games grew, the use of text was decreased and ‘computer games’ transformed into video games, eventually making the vast majority of mainstream computer games completely inaccessible. The games played nowadays by gamers with a visual disability can be divided into two classes:
- Games not specifically designed to be available (text-based games and video games)
- Games specially designed to be available (music games, video games which are available by original design and video games made available by modification).
Text-based games have been in development for at least the past 20 years. These include textadventures, classic tabletop games such as Yathzee and Battleship, and on-line (HTML-based) Multi-User Dungeons (MUD’s). There are hundreds of those text-based games with lots of developed in the 1980’s by routine game developers and far more with the growth of the Web by website designers. Sadly, text-based games are frequently straightforward, don’t offer a lot of lack and variety the ‘computergame’-expertise that mainstream games supply. Text-based games are also common nowadays.
Audio games are games which consist of sound and only have auditory (so no visual) outputsignal. Audio games are not specifically “games for the blind”. But because one doesn’t need vision to be capable to play music games, most audio games have been developed by and for the community that was blind. There are well over 100 audio games. Audio games have been developed by small dedicated businesses (1 to 3 developers/designers/programmers), hobby game designers, academics in research projects and gamers themselves. Most audio games are rather simple games (compared to mainstream games) and lack much of the attributes of mainstream games such as diversity, multi-player functionality and good replayability.
Mainstream Video games
Some mainstream video games are playable by gamers with a disablity due to extensive use of auditory feedback. The Grand Theft Auto-video games have been known to be quite enjoyable to play around with by visually disabled gamers due to an advanced sound engine as well as the arrangement of the game. Sadly, there are only a small number of mainstream video games which provide such advanced auditory feedback. And although this kind of game is playable by the blind, these games are not fully accessible. By way of example, these games still utilize menus without auditory feedback.
Video games made available through modification
Games are sometimes altered by gamers themselves to give it more or different functionality. Only one example of this kind of game is known and that’s Accessible Quake — an available modification (or “MOD”-RRB- for Quake 1, developed by Matthew Atkinson & Sabahattin Gucukoglu of all AGRIP.
Video games which are available through original design
There are various samples of videogames wherein availability for the blind has been included via the design of the game. Sadly, not a lot of samples of this kind of game exist along with several lack attributes of mainstream video games such as replayability and enjoyable gameplay.