Damien Fargeout, in internship at ArtFX, is an Accessibility Consultant. He explains to us what is an Inclusive Design Sprint and why it is so crucial when developers think about video games.

What is an Inclusive Design Sprint ?
Accessibility in videogames is taken seriously and more and more companies want to add more accessibility options in their games. If we considered that in five years, they became a common thing and it’s surprising, in the wrong way, to not have them. You have to run Inclusive Design Sprint.

But what is it ? A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in an Inclusive Design Sprint. During few days of development, you (as a developer) have to focus on accessibility. It’s designed to learn more about the gaming experiences of your players with disabilities. What is playing with a disability cannot be guessed and you need help. It’s the occasion to find how to better involve players with disabilities and develop your empathy.

As an accessibility consultant, I had got to share my experiences in videogames. I needed to identify what gives me struggles in the gameplay, how my feelings are impacted by playing, what I would like to see as a solution. Eventually, I’ll give inspirations to create new accessible features for everyone. What kind of experiences do you want to give to your players ? What abilities are you asking to access this experience ? Who will you cast aside not considering those those problematics ?

From my experience, the lack of accessibility isn’t on purpose. Videogames are product to sell and you have to spread the envy to buy them to everyone. Even people with disabilities are players but we’re living in a world who never tells they are beyond of that. So developers can’t guess this fact and think about it during the develeopment of a videogame. Now, some of developers have this fact in mind and it’s our responsability, as accessibility consultant, to point them what is wrong in videogames today. 

Accessibility does exist in videogames since a lot of time but never called like this. It is all the options you put as sound volume, contrast or even, difficulty. We were fine with that that until now but we need some new things, evolution because videogames are made of that. In Resident evil 4, the progresive difficulty, for a long time was a secret, is one of the major breakthrough in accessiiblity. You have to give modularity in your experience so everyone can take something from the game.

Actually, some games as Bloodborne still say to the player : « You’re not enough ». It’s harsh to say that to people fight against the unknown, the impossible, the unthinkable everyday and they just want freedom, relief from videogames. Moreover, there is a way to give them a wonderful feeling : to win against the disability. Winning against a game hides something bigger and it’s your responsability as developers to put this feeling within the reach of people with disability.
Game design should be thought through accessibility. All companies should run one of Inclusive Design Sprint during each developments of videogames. It’s a born of a new creativity in the medium and an inclusive one. New experiences can be designed from new problematics and everyone could enjoy them. It’s still early but already, players are enjoying accessibility options without knowing them. Subtitles are on by default and a very little number of players disable them.

So when do you start ?

Article written by Damien Fargeout
Accessibility Consultant
In internship at ArtFX Montpellier

If you want to learn more about Inclusive Design Sprint :