One aspect of gaming that most of us take for granted is how we play our games. Many like to relax on the couch with a controller in our hands or sitting at our computer desk playing with a mouse and keyboard. But what if you had some type of disability that prevented you from playing games in that way? Would you give up games entirely, or would you try to find a solution that would still allow you to continue to enjoy this hobby? Most of us would probably say that we would find a way to still game.
Thankfully there are companies out there that understand the needs of this portion of their audience and are willing to help. Visceral Games, the makers of the recently released and well-received, Dead Space 2 are one of those companies.
Hearing the call of disabled gamers asking for customizable controls, Visceral Games and EA jumped into action and are currently working on a patch to offer this for players.
Joystiq caught up with Steve Papoutsis, the game's Executive Producer, and he explained that his team feels very strongly that everyone should be able to enjoy their game:
"The Dead Space 2 team is aware of the issue that disabled players are having with Dead Space 2 PC. In fact a number of folks on our team are so passionate about getting this fix done that they are currently working hard to allow players to re-map key bindings to the mouse which should help disabled players enjoy the game. I'd like to say I'm very proud of the people on the Dead Space 2 team for coming in today and jumping on the fix first thing. Working with such a talented and compassionate group of people is incredible and makes me proud to be a part of the Dead Space 2 team, Visceral Games, and Electronic Arts."
One of the people to bring this issue to EA's attention is Gareth Garratt, a gamer living with cerebral palsy, who requested that he be able to control the character's forward movement with a mouse button.
Mr. Garratt provided some videos of him playing a few games on an Overclocker UK forum showing that if you enjoy something and have patience, anything is possible:
Seeing a company as big as Electronic Arts putting time and resources into fixing a problem that only affects a small portion of their audience is a nice thing to hear. Hopefully, EA will set the standard that other companies will follow and make publishers supply solutions for people will all types of disabilities.
Another example would be hearing impaired individuals. While common in most games, why would any game not have the option of subtitles? Last year Activision's first-person shooter Singularity had no option to turn on subtitles, so if you were deaf or hearing impaired the entire story portion of that game was something you couldn't experience.
The attention that EA is giving this group is going against the general flow of the industry right now, with every console maker focused on getting the player to be more active. First it was the Wii's motion controls, then Sony introduced a similar style motion control device called the Move. Not to be left out, Microsoft released the hugely successful Kinect, requiring players to use their entire body as the controller.
These companies seem so set on pushing these devices onto consumers they are potentially forgetting about disabled gamers. Thankfully, there are companies like Electronic Arts who seem willing to listen to these overlooked players, and help them find ways to still enjoy the games they want to play.
So readers, what are your thoughts on this issue? Feel that these companies are doing enough for disabled gamers or should they put more effort into making games more accessible to the majority?
Dead Space 2 is now available for the PS3, Xbox 360, and the soon-to-be-patched with custom controls PC.