Chances are that you probably haven’t even noticed Uncharted 4’s extensive set of accessibility features, but they’re obviously all important to gamers with disabilities.
The reason Uncharted 4 has so many is all down to one industrious gamer, who met with Naughty Dog at GDC. The touching meeting has been outlined in a new video from Sony.
Naughty Dog UI designer Alexandria Neonakis sat down with D.A.G.E.R. editor-in-chief Josh Straub at GDC to see what they could do.
D.A.G.E.R stands for Disabled Accessibility for Gaming Entertainment Rating System. It’s a great site that Straub uses to review and score videogames from the perspective of a disabled gamer.
The reason Straub started the site is because he was unable to finish Uncharted 2 without help, thanks to a series of button mashing sequences towards the end of the game.
I was faced with the reality that I had played this entire game. I had spent $60 on it, and I could not get any further without the help of an able-bodied person.
Straub went on to give an incredibly impassioned argument for why videogames can often mean so much more to those with disabilities. He reasoned that they provide an escape from the “doldrums of being disabled”, and a space where he can be judged by his skill, not his physical appearance.
Understandably, Straub left a big impact on Neonakis. She sat down with Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, Uncharted 4’s creative directors, and the team decided to get to work.
Obviously the aim wasn’t to completely overhaul Uncharted 4’s design, but simply to add additional options for the player.
For example, one option enables the player to hold a button down instead of having to tap it repeatedly. This system applies to quick time events and melee combat.
If you so choose, the camera can also aim around cover to give an idea of what’s around and lock-on to enemies. Check out the video below.
As Straub says in the video, the brief period of escape afforded to him by videogames is why accessibility is so crucial – here’s hoping other developers take inspiration from Naughty Dog and do more for disabled gamers.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.