The Coalition, the developer behind Gears 5, has gone above and beyond to create an experience that plays incredibly well for deaf players. Gears 5 has deep accessibility options and a lot of unique telegraphing that makes it much easier to play for the hearing impaired.
Accessibility in games has become a growing topic of concern as the medium grows in popularity. Players of various disabilities make up a significant chunk of the gaming community and have spoken out to a greater degree over the past few years. Yet, while companies like Microsoft have developed adaptive controllers to help disabled gamers, many developers still haven't put a lot of work into the concept.
It seems that Microsoft, however, continues to pioneer in this regard. According to the website Can I Play This?, which reviews games based on their accessibility, the well-reviewed Gears 5 has received the first perfect score for deaf and hard of hearing accessibility in the entire history of the site. The review celebrates the game's commitment to illustrating how to make games for deaf players.
The review points to a lot of different factors that make the accessibility shine. First, Gears 5 begins with a pop-up screen that allows players to turn on subtitles and change the size, yet just adding subtitles doesn't automatically make a game accessible to deaf people. The team at The Coalition has also added subtitles that give context, like whether a character speaks through a radio or whether they have a garbled or distorted transmission. The game also notes with subtitles when the music settles, an audio cue that often signifies the end of combat, which deaf people otherwise have no reference for.
On top of the subtitles, The Coalition has also added a lot of extra visual information on the screen to indicate things like where gunfire comes from, such as the gear symbol that shows when players take damage points in the direction of the damage as it fills. The screen also adds yellow lines to visual track the damage direction. Additionally, Gears 5 players can also tag enemies to keep track of them which helps when players can't tell where enemies are based on audio clues.
Accessibility in games matters because it allows more players to experience games. Efforts like the ones Microsoft has shown help bring the conversation to the forefront. And as deaf players get more visibility, more developers will hopefully put in the effort that The Coalition has shown with its accessibility in Gears 5.
Gears 5 is available on PC and Xbox One.
Source: Can I Play That?