Katie Goode is the Creative Director of Triangular Pixels, which has developed Smash Hit Plunder for the Gear VR and Unseen Diplomacy for the Vive. Unseen Diplomacy is a room-scale experience that has people crawling through tunnels as a spy, but Katie wanted to ensure that she wasn’t excluding people with disabilities in being able to enjoy and participate in their experience. I had a chance to talk with Katie at GDC for how they’re taking into account accessibility for VR by designing experiences that still work for users who are deaf, colorblind, or have a disability that restricts their movement.
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There’s a menu option at the beginning of Unseen Diplomacy if your movement is restricted, which then alters the experience to make it more accessible to people who can’t crawl around on the floor whether due to age, an injury, or a disability. There are some sections that are completely removed, but there are other adaptations to the game that move the buttons and objects around so that they’re accessible to people in a wheelchair.
In the end, designing with people with a range of disabilities in mind usually ends up with stronger game design for everyone. For example, the visual cues in Unseen Diplomacy were more explicit and didn’t solely upon color or audio to give the user feedback in their game. This not only makes is so that deaf and colorblind people can still fully enjoy the experience, but it also in the end provided a more clear design for everyone.
For more information on VR accessibility, be sure to check out this article on designing VR for people with physical limitations by Tomorrow Today Labs’ Adrienne Hunter.
Here’s a gameplay video of Unseen Diplomacy, which is available on Steam for $2.99. The game does require a minimum of 4m x 3m space, and so I wasn’t able to fully play it in my 2.9m x 2.3m room.
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