Microsoft is launching a new initiative which enables game developers to send their PC and Xbox titles in to be analysed by accessibility experts.
“Where issues are found, they are noted with reproduction steps, screenshots, and other information to help the developer understand what aspect of a given experience may be challenging for certain gamers with disabilities,” explained Brannon Zahand, senior program manager of gaming accessibility at Xbox.
Xbox has been on a quest to improve the gaming experience for people with disabilities in recent years.
In early-2019, Microsoft launched the Xbox Adaptive Controller which gained rave reviews for quite literally changing the game for people with disabilities.
Microsoft has continually updated its Xbox Accessibility Guidelines (XAGs) with best practices for game developers to ensure as many people as possible can access and enjoy their hard work.
The XAGs were most recently updated just two days ago (as of writing) and are developed in partnership with industry experts and members of the gaming and disability community.
Games submitted for evaluation as part of the new accessibility testing initiative will be trialled by gamers with disabilities.
“Perhaps the most important aspect of the program, however, is the inclusion of gamers with disabilities as part of the testing project,” Zahand said.
“Every test pass includes members of the Gaming & Disability Community to not only run test cases against games, but to provide their feedback and insights as well.”
According to the ESA Foundation – which harnesses the collective power of the video game industry to create positive social impact in communities – says there are approximately 46 million gamers with disabilities in the US alone.
Aside from helping to make a positive impact on people’s lives, ensuring your games can be appreciated by everyone opens up more revenue opportunities.
Microsoft says its work isn’t done on the initiative and will continue to take feedback from both developers and the gaming and disability community to improve it further.
“It’s important for us to ensure we are constantly improving and raising the bar for inclusive gaming,” Zahand says.
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