The First Annual Video Game Accessibility Awards

Accessibility Awards 2020

This year marked the first annual Video Game Accessibility Awards, which present awards to games and developers that make video games accessible to every type of gamer. The event was hosted by Santa Monica Studios writer Alanah Pearce and COO of AbleGamers Steven Spohn on November 15th. For playback of the entire awards ceremony, check out Pearce’s video.

Livestreamed on AbleGamers and Alanah Pearce’s twitch channels, the Accessibility Awards featured a bunch of guests, including accessibility advocate Steve Saylor, actors Rahul Kohli (iZombie, The Haunting of Bly Manor) and Troy Baker (The Last of Us, BioShock Infinite). To help make the awards happen technologically speaking, there was work put in by Kinda Funny’s Kevin Coello as well as IGN’s Editorial Designer Eric Sapp and IGN’s Senior Video Editor Khalilah Alston.

Categories and Winners:

Assassins Creed Valhalla

Same Controls But Different: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

This category refers to the player being able to remap controls from their standard configuration. Some gamers may need to remap their controls to an alternative controller. This can solve problems such as players being unable to reach the controls, decreases the number of repeated button presses, and reduces fatigue.

Second Channel: The Last of Us Part 2

In this category, players are able to adapt their interfaces to a different module. For example, blind players can enhance visual interfaces through audio or haptic presentation.

Improved Precision: Apex Legends

Games with improved precision allow a player to adjust actions so they can successfully target, move, and navigate. This can include slowing down the movement of the cursor and the camera.

Clear Text: The Outer Worlds

When a player can’t read the text in the game, the solution is to present the text in a more readable way. This can range from making the text larger, changing the contrast or background color, and even changing the font of the text.

Do More With Less: Ghost of Tsushima

With this category, when games need to reduce the actions in a sequence to allow a player to proceed, it’s made possible by mapping multiple actions to one button, reducing the number of controls.

Play Alongside: Borderlands 3

By allowing an additional player to join in the game, gamers who could not continue their game without help from someone else are able to proceed.

Bypass: Fuser

When players cannot pass a certain section of a game even with adjustments, they will be able to bypass that section to continue enjoying the game.

Training Ground: Madden NFL 2020

When the usual tutorial or training in the game isn’t enough, a solution proposed is proving the player with multiple ways to train in the game. This can range from being able to train longer to testing out new controls.

House Rules: Among Us

To make sure players are on the same playing field as everyone else, House Rules allows gamers more freedom to match their skill level or preferences with other players.

Ellie In-game

Helping Hand: The Last of Us Part 2

Referring to challenges that can’t be completed without the game’s help, the Helping Hand solution allows players to ask the game directly for assistance. This could be assists for aiming and targeting or help with puzzles and traversing the game’s environment.

Fundraiser and the Future

As part of the celebration for the Video Game Accessibility Awards, a fundraiser was set-up for AbleGamers. For those unaware of their charitable actions, AbleGamers helped the disabled community by providing people with the expensive, specialized equipment they need to play video games for free. The fundraiser broke its $5,000 goal and currently sits at over $7,500.

Future game awards are also looking to become more inclusive. One such example is Geoff Keighley, who announced that this year’s Game Awards will include an Innovation in Accessibility category.

Amidst the news of problems with the new Xbox and PS5 consoles, it’s nice to be able to enjoy the more positive and progressive aspects of gaming and celebrate all gamers.

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By Nicole D'Andria

Nicole D'Andria works as a freelance writer/editor specializing in comics. She adapted Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir to comics and writes her own ongoing comic book series, Road Trip to Hell. She works as a freelance comic editor on Tapas Media. Nicole's freelance clients include Action Lab (2015-2020, Submissions Editor/Marketing Director) and scholarly journals such as Clio's Psyche and JASPER. She writes a series of interviews showcasing Kickstarter creators for Comic Frontline and pop culture lists for CBR.