Can A Blind person play video games? When people talk about video games, the main focus is always on their visual elements and the immersive environments they can offer. A common topic of interest is the viability of video games for the visually impaired.
How can they play these games if they can’t read the menus, characters, different scores, or even navigate through the landscape?
Moreover, if a new technique is developed to make video games accessible to blind people, will they be enjoyable without the visual elements that make them interesting in the first place?
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These are all the questions that root from a single misconception: enjoyment is based on the visual appearance of a game.
This is a very closed-minded view of video games and ignores the fact that visually impaired and completely blind people rely on audio cues for all kinds of entertainment, including reading books, sports, movies, and keeping up with the news.
Fortunately, multiple companies within the gaming industry have leveraged audio elements to create fully accessible games that blind people can play without any assistance.
Instead of a gaming landscape, more creators now focus on incorporating a gaming soundscape that provides 3D audio feedback to the player.
Some common accessibility features of such accessible video games are explained below.
Can A Blind Person Play Video Games? What Do You Need To Know About Audio Narrations?
This has always been the main limiting factor when it comes to accessibility. Besides text, many games now feature a text-to-speech feature that narrates the menus, character, and avatar options, along with the current scores, levels, and rewards.
Other informational elements of games such as the due quests, remaining lives, surrounding threats, and directions to be taken are also communicated with audio.
Video games create an immersive environment with the help of in-depth world-building, including buildings, rivers, skies, and surrounding characters. The same immersive gaming environment can be created for blind people with the help of realistic, multi-sensory audio. Different types of sound ambiance, such as intense, calm, or horror music, can help communicate the type of place a player is present in.
Moreover, audio feedback with specific sounds for each obstacle, route, and action can be used to direct the player about what he has to do. Modern games now use the help of 3D sound to provide a fully immersive world with more in-depth feedback for each gameplay action.
Vibrations and Physical Feedback
Besides audio, some games make use of other senses of players to help them feel more connected with the game. Vibrations on gaming gear are a common feature that helps a player explore the game.
For example, vibrations of different intensities can help a player understand their proximity to the surrounding objects and how far or close they are to a certain place.
Looking for different threats, traps, and enemies has been a limiting factor when it comes to non-visual gameplay. Some popular games now include the feature of non-visual scanning that allows a player to scan their environment and detect different objects with the help of specific audio notifications.
Fighting and combat games are one of the most loved video game genres. Previously, most games designed for blind people included obvious rhythmic cues and straightforward quests that make for dull entertainment.
Also, make sure to check out my post on How Do Deaf And Blind Learn Braille? What Is Braille?
With recent developments, players can now play intensive combat games and aim, target, and kill their enemies with the help of non-visual target locking.
3 Popular Video Games For Blind People
While there has been significant progress within the domain of non-visual gameplay development, most mainstream video games still remain inaccessible.
After all, blind people are also interested in playing the most popular, fascinating, and immersive games rather than those merely developed for blind and visually impaired individuals.
Despite the lag in response from the top gaming companies, there are some popular video games that are almost fully accessible. The video games’ genre, story, and accessible features are explained below.
1. Lost and Hound
Lost and Hound was one of the first games ever developed with a core focus on blind people. The game is based on the adventures of a rescue dog named Biscuit.
Players can go through interesting trails while catching criminals, solving mysteries, and helping lost people as a strong-willed rescue dog. The game is fully accessible and entirely sound-driven, so blind people don’t need assistance with any tasks when playing.
What’s interesting about the game is that the entire plot is based on the main character’s strong sense of hearing. For this reason, the game is not about translating visual elements to audio elements but is foundationally designed around the hearing senses.
2. A Blind Legend
A Blind Legend is an adventure, role-playing game with a supportive character accompanying the main player throughout the journey. The game utilized binaural 3d audio, which is created to convey a hearing experience that mimics the experience of live hearing.
It allows the player to feel a more immersive gaming world that feels realistic. The use of headphones is necessary to feel the 3d Audio elements. It is one of the most popular games that dedicated a lot of effort to creating a soundscape with as many gameplay elements as any other visual-based game.
The game features direction audio cues and feedback to help the players complete their complex quests. Some common gaming elements include combat, stealth, horseback riding, exploration of different territories, and escaping dangerous traps.
3. The Last Of Us: Part 2
The Last Of Us: Part 2 has gained some of the most overwhelming reviews and praise from the gaming community. Many gaming experts call it the most accessible game for all disabilities.
The game has more than 60 accessibility features that allow the player to complete every task and level without needing visual assistance. It is one of the few stealth, combat, and fighting game that can be played with audio-assisted hiding, aiming, and shooting.
With the help of audio cues, a player can remain undetected by the enemies, locate enemies to target, and auto-lock their shot at a specific character to win the game. Visual cues allow blind people to run a scan of the environment where a distinct sound alerts them of someone’s presence.
This takes non-visual gameplay to a new level as such attention to detail has previously been absent.
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