Lenstore, a vision care service in the United Kingdom known for selling contact lenses online to the region, has released findings on the most accessible video games and board games for visually impaired players.
"Board games and video games are often created with those with perfect vision in mind," Lenstore wrote on their website. "It can be difficult for many people to enjoy the same range of activities available to those with 20/20, uncorrected vision."
The study set to find out which video games had the following accessibility options identified in their studies:
Color Deficiency (commonly known as "color blindness")
Adjustable Font Size: The ability to change the size of text in-game
HUD (Heads Up Display Scaling: Whether the user interface can change to a different size
Contrast Setting: Whether there is an inbuilt control over the level of visual contrast (the difference between dark and light colors)
Three charts were created to show this study: accessibility in the Top 10 games (of all time), accessibility in the Top 10 recent games, and accessibility in the Top 10 in board games. All video game data Lenstore collected came from Metacritic; board game data was collected from BoardGameGeek.
The Last of Us Part II Stays Supreme
With eight wins from the Game Awards and six Golden Joysticks, it's unsurprising The Last of Us Part II came out as number one on both Top Ten video game charts.
It has all four accessibility options, including Contrast Setting, which no other games on the Top 10 Most Accessible have--a few don't have the settings at all, while most have "Brightness Only."
"Games development is constantly evolving," Lenstore said on their website. "The number of accessibility options included in a popular, mainstream game like The Last of Us Part II is a testament to how the industry can build their products to support all players."
The Last of Us Part II is only available to play on the PlayStation 4, so while it's accessible to the visually impaired across the board, it is not accessible to all players of all platforms.
The next three games on the list have three out of four accessibility options. None of them possess Contrast Settings.
The oldest game on the list, World of Warcraft, launched in 2004 and has only ever been available on PC.
Into the Breach is available on PC as well but has the added benefit of being available on the handheld console the Nintendo Switch.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is an Xbox exclusive, but all games in the top four give hope there's an accessible video game for everyone with every console.
The Last of Us Part II is also the most accessible game of the current Top 10 Recent Games, with Microsoft Flight Simulator coming in second. They're the only two games to appear on both lists.
Top Recent Games Lacking in Accessibility
Even though the other eight games are popular among gamers, they don't have as many accessibility options as other games.
The re-release of Yakuza 0 has no options for Color Deficiency but has the Contract Settings that Microsoft Flight Simulator lacks. Crusader Kings III, number four on the list, only has Adjustable Font Size and HUD Scaling.
The other games on the list have Contrast Settings in some way, except for Half-Life: Alyx, which only has Adjustable Font Size. Alternatively Half-Life: Alyx, according to Lenstore's findings, has different accessibility options that weren't named on the charts such as reducing the intensity of lighting effects.
"...Options like adjusting text size and the heads-up display should be standard in all games," Lenstore said on their webpage dedicated to the study. "Developers who are able to incorporate Text-to-Speech support will find a grateful player base."
Other ideas Lenstore has in mind for helping visually impaired gamers include:
A lock-on aim, where shooting or weapon targeting is required
Audio cues for movement and combat
The ability to skip certain sections that are harder for those with impairments;
Customizable difficulty levels, so players can choose how challenging the game is.
Top Board Games for Visually Impaired Gamers
Board games don't feel as popular as they used to be due to the lack of person-to-person socialization brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, but they're still great for visually impaired people who want to have a good time.
Boardgame classic Chess is number one on the list, with familiar games such as Scrabble and Connect 4 Advanced at the bottom of the list.
While the other board games are unfamiliar to me, you can read their descriptors on the Lenstore website.
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To see Lenstore's methodology and sources, you can visit their website.
These findings originally appeared on GamePress on March 12, 2021.