Naughty Dog details the process of making Uncharted 4 accessible to all, having been inspired by a disabled player who struggled with Uncharted 2.
Most people sitting down to play Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End would have no reason to think that they would be physically unable to complete the game. However, many major releases feature gameplay mechanics or other elements that make it difficult or impossible for disabled players to progress without outside assistance.
That’s exactly what inspired Josh Straub to found DAGERS, otherwise known as the Disabled Accessibility for Gaming Entertainment Rating System. While playing Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Straub found that his physical disability forced him to ask someone else to play through a sequence towards the end of the game.
The scene requires the player to button-mash rapidly to open a series of doors. Straub’s disability affects his reflexes and the use of his hands, so unfortunately this prevented him from making progress in his favorite series. This experience inspired DAGERS — which in turn prompted Naughty Dog to makes its games more accessible.
Hearing about Straub’s difficulties with Uncharted 2, the studio brought him in as a consultant on Uncharted 4 — a role he’s filled for the likes of Ubisoft and Epic Games also, according to a report from Polygon. Thanks to this collaborative effort, the finished product features a bevy of options intended to make the game playable by all.
These measures range from the option to hold an input down instead of button-mashing, to a lock-on feature intended to help with targeting, to multiplayer teams being red and blue instead of red and green for the benefit of colorblind players. It’s a thoughtful, considered approach that’s in line with the high quality of the game.
Here’s a quote from Straub describing how studios can help certain players escape from the “doldrums of being disabled” with accessibility options like these:
When I turn on a game like Uncharted, I’m not, you know, confined to a wheelchair. I’m a swashbuckling, ne’er-do-well treasure hunter, like Nathan Drake. That brief period of escape is why accessibility is so crucial. Because the more games that offer that, the more people with disabilities will be able to escape and have better lives.
Straub notes that completely different control methods aren’t always necessary to make the game accessible to disabled players — typically, simply making the controller more flexible will be enough to facilitate the experience. It’s great to see Naughty Dog making such strides in this area, and hopefully we’ll see other major studios follow suit.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is available now for PlayStation 4.