by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern
BBC Scotland recently published How do visually impaired people play video games?, an article included in Yahoo News, covering blind gamer Ben Breen, now an accessible games and immersive technology research officer for the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB). Born without vision, Breen spent his childhood experimenting with PC games – but not winning them. He recalled: “‘I started out with games like Fighter Pilot on PC not really understanding how anything worked because I didn’t know about screen readers at the time, or any of the tech. So I was just pressing buttons, seeing what happens, and literally nosediving a plane.’” He later played audio-only games, but when more mainstream video games began to be developed with more attention paid to the needs of people who are visually impaired, he found he “‘prefer[s] stuff when it’s enjoyable for more people.’” Some features he finds helpful include screen-reading capabilities, handset shortcuts, and lock-on aim. He and others spoke at a conference in Scotland with agents from Google, EA Games, and Microsoft. His aim now is to advocate on behalf of gamers with vision loss to the gaming industry, so that games are designed more inclusively from the outset. One positive example of this trend is “The Last of Us Part 1”, launched in September for the Play Station 5. Another notable blind gamer fighting for game accessibility is Steve Saylor, who has a YouTube channel, and was profiled in this Vice article. Lastly, on the Can I Play That? website, here is an interesting article on Five Games for Blind and Visually Impaired Players.