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How Games are Changing to Aid Disabled Gamers

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disabled

For many, gaming is an easy escape from reality, but for those less-abled who need it most, it often involves a painful struggle that only highlights their day-to-day difficulties. Thanks to growing awareness and more demand, however, developers continue to make significant strides in the way of eliminating those obstacles that hinder the experience of gamers with disabilities. Though the industry still has a long way to go, this represents another step closer to making games accessible to all, indicating that a brighter, more inclusive future is in store for the quickly growing medium.

Many of these changes have been simple features implemented to accomodate for less demanding limitations. Subtitles, for example, are taken for granted by all, but serve an important purpose for the deaf or hard-of-hearing (making their occasional absence all the more frustrating), and colour blindness and vision impairments are easily overcome by playing with display settings. These sometimes crucial settings often go unnoticed, but they are absolutely necessary nonetheless.

More notable are the variety of options now available for those with physical disabilities to tweak for their individual needs. Many games today are adopting extensive settings options, allowing the user to alter the sensitivity of button presses and mouse movements to make reflex-based gameplay somewhat easier if necessary. Similarly, complicated quick time events and combo moves can be made simpler or skipped altogether as in Spider-Man, while some games allow the use of only one hand to control them.


Naturally, these options are great for those who need them, yet they are still not enough for some with more severe handicaps whose needs are much less supported. Such issues could largely be solved by button remapping features which are already widely available across most PC games, but few console games have them, and even system-wide controller settings on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are too limited.

Companies have thankfully addressed this issue with custom gamepads designed specifically for those with certain disabilities that make most games playable without any significant struggle. Most notable is Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller released recently in 2018, which features an extensive array of standard plugs that allow one to connect virtually any controller or button and map them to specific commands. Other controllers involve motions controls, eye tracking, mouth movements, and more — the options are truly endless, making gaming virtually accessible to anyone in spite of their needs.


Beyond companies and developers, however, gamers have pushed for these features that have truly made a difference. Dr. Mick Donegan, for example, started the charity SpecialEffect specifically to help disabled children play games, and such demand has contributed greatly to the recent push for more accessibility for the medium. Additionally, these leaders seem to be finally getting the recognition they deserve: SpecialEffect has won awards for its work, and just last week, disabled game Stephen Spohn and leader of AbleGamers appeared in a feature during The Game Awards 2018 to discuss his experience before thousands of viewers. The mission of these companies is that people should recognise and consider, as the inclusive philosophy behind the push for more accessibility in games is one that will surely expand to include more audiences in years to come.

Ultimately, seeing more people being able to love playing games as any other is encouraging, especially for those for which it would otherwise be an impossible struggle. One can only hope developers are taking note, and that more games adopt such crucial yet simple features in the future.

For more coverage on your favorite single-player games, as well as new and exciting upcoming releases, stay connected with OnlySP on Facebook and Twitter.

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Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in May 2019

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May

May offers no respite from the big, bold games that have released so far in 2019, bringing with it a host of games almost certain to appeal to gamers of every stripe.

Close to the Sun

Release Date: May 2, 2019
Platforms: PC, consoles later in the year

May’s first major release may also be its most intriguing. Close to the Sun has regularly attracted comparisons to BioShock for its art style and premise, though the relationship between the two titles is, at best, spiritual.

Players take the role of journalist Rose Archer as she steps aboard Nikola Tesla’s ship, the Helios in 1897. Like Andrew Ryan before him (or after him, depending on perspective), Tesla has created a microcosm in which scientific freedom is unrestricted, with disastrous outcomes. Rose’s first impression is of a quarantine sign at the entrance to a still, dead ship, but she presses on regardless in search of her lost sister.

With Close to the Sun, developer Storm in a Teacup aims to provide an intense horror experience. The Helios holds none of BioShock’s shotguns or Plasmids. Instead, players have no means to defend themselves, with gameplay focusing on hiding from and escaping the threats on board.

Check out OnlySP’s final review of the game here.

RAGE 2

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

For anyone to whom the slow, meditative approach does not appeal, Bethesda is busting out the big guns with the long-awaited, little-expected sequel, RAGE 2.

This time around, id Software has tapped Just Cause and Mad Max developer Avalanche Studios for assistance in developing an open-world game. The result, if the trailers are any indication, is a breakneck, neon-fuelled experience that focuses on insanity and ramps up all the unique aspects of the earlier game.

One focal point of development has been ensuring the interconnectedness of the game’s structure, and the teams have promised a greater focus on narrative this time around. Perhaps in keeping with that, RAGE 2 is being distanced from its predecessor, taking place 30 years later with a new protagonist and a whole new story, though some callbacks will be present.

Although id’s legendary first-person gunplay is a driving force throughout the game, it will be supplemented by some light RPG elements, robust vehicular combat, and post launch challenges and support (though the developers deny that RAGE 2 is designed with a games-as-a-service model in mind).

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Release Date: May 14, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Out on the same day as RAGE 2 is the vastly different A Plague Tale: Innocence. A historical adventure, the game challenges players with overcoming obstacles with brains rather than brawn.

Players become Amicia, an orphan girl struggling to survive in a plague-infested medieval France while also keeping her younger brother safe. With the landscape rife with rats and members of The Inquisition, one of the core tenets of gameplay is reportedly the need to use these threats against each other. As such, though Amicia has a sling to use, the gameplay is designed more as survival puzzles than combat ones.

Developer Asobo Studio is not a household name, though it has a lengthy history of adaptations and support on major titles, including Quantum Break and The Crew 2. Furthermore, even though A Plague Tale is yet to release, publisher Focus Home Interactive has displayed remarkable confidence in the project by extending its partnership with Asobo.

Honourable Mentions

Although RAGE 2 is the incontestable action-blockbuster of the month, gamers in search of another kind of frenetic may want to wait until May 21, when Curve Digital drops American Fugitive, which has a more than passing resemblance to the earliest Grand Theft Auto games. Alternatively, PlayStation VR owners may want to look into Blood and Truth come May 28.

Sega also shines this month, dropping Team Sonic Racing on May 21 and Total War: Three Kingdoms two days later.

Anyone looking for an RPG has indie’s answer to The Outer Worlds, Within the Cosmos, to look out for on May 30, while those looking for slower stories get the latest episode of Life is Strange 2 on May 9, Observation on May 21, and the fjord-noir Draugen at a yet unspecified date.

Have we forgotten anything that you’re excited for? Let us know down below or on our Discord server.

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