[games_access] Some thoughts on games with CC

Reid Kimball rkimball at gmail.com
Sun Apr 9 15:52:27 EDT 2006

Well, OK, you caught me... or something. 99% of games (with the except
of audio games) are accessible, i.e., playable to a degree for hard of
hearing or deaf gamers.

That doesn't mean the experience is enjoyable though. That doesn't
meant that closed captioning isn't needed. Playing games with
subtitles is more enjoyable than without. Playing with full closed
captioning is even better! I always bring up this example when
explaining why games need closed captioning.

I was playing Max Payne 2 and found myself inside a large Masion
level. I walked up some stairs and there was a single door that was
closed. I walked up to the door to open it, but nothing happened. As I
turned to walk away, suddenly the door flew off its hinges towards me
and killed me instantly.

I was frickin' pissed. I was ready to put the game down and stop
playing. Curse Max Payne! Curse Remedy! Curse 3D Realms! Curse 'em

I calmed down, restarted my last save, which was a fair ways back,
replayed what I had already done so, slightly annoyed at the
repetativeness of it all and made my way back to the door. This time,
I turned up the volume much louder than I had it before. I saved my
game, walked up to the door and listened closely.

I heard voices on the other side of the door, voices that said, "She's
set to blow! Get going!"

The door once again exploded and killed me instantly. "AH HA!" I said
to myself, "There be clues in them whisperin' voices." and from that
moment on, I realized that gaming for someone that is hearing impaired
or deaf can be extremely frustrating and a poor experience because
they can miss out on very important audio clues.

As a developer, I understand the motivations we have when creating a
game. We want to provide the most exhilerating experience possible. We
want to challenge and inspire gamers and do everything in our power to
lessen the negative frustrations of playing a game without making it
too easy. Ignoring closed captioning is to ignore the one of the many
core goals of a game developer, to alieviate frustrations gamers can
have during play.

With all this talk about next generation, there's a push for not only
next gen graphics, but also next gen gameplay. Gameplay is getting
more and more complex as our games mature and provide gamers with
richer experiences. Those multi-layered, in depth gaming experiences
will require the use of closed captioning if a hard of hearing/deaf
gamer is to have the full experience intended by the game designer.


On 4/9/06, AudioGames.net <richard at audiogames.net> wrote:
> Hi,
> Reid mentioned several times during the GDC that there are only about 3
> games that are close-captioned. When I heard this my initial though was
> "that can't be... what about Syberia 1 & 2, most adventures made with the
> SCUMM engine (Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Grim Fandango, etc.), and gameX
> and gameY, etc." . Well, some games made with the SCUMM engine don't use
> auditory dialog at all (like Maniac Mansion) so captioning was all there was
> to express dialog. But still, there are at least 5 games I thought I'd know
> with captioning that Reid did not mention.
> So then I remembered the difference between (closed) captioning and
> subtitling (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_captioning)
> . And it turned out (of course) that the examples I thought of are examples
> of subtitles instead of captioning. But then I had a look around to see if
> there is some info on possible accessibility problems in these games (surely
> there's a deaf person out there still stuck in Monkey Island simply because
> it can't hear a clue. And I found this (on of of the Monkey Island games):
> "Needless to say, you must also hone your senses to succeed in this
> adventure and give your imagination full rein. Clues abound, but only if you
> watch and listen for them. This means that there are clues in descriptions
> of persons and items and, much to my great relief, you can enable text
> subtitles so you don't miss a single thing. Even the opening sequence has
> subtitles, but you do have to enter the game first and enable this feature
> before you will get them. The dialogue is thoroughly entertaining and it's
> worth exhausting every conversation, not only to extract all the clues, but
> also to get some extra laughs. And watch out for all the quips taken
> straight out of Lucas Films such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones." -
> http://www.quandaryland.com/jsp/dispArticle.jsp?index=189
> Then I had a look at DeafGamers.com, since I remember they have their own
> rating system for game accessibility over there:
> http://www.deafgamers.com/dgclassification.htm .
> And found that DeafGamers.com too states that "...only Half-Life 2 springs
> to mind as being a game worthy of an A grade." While reading their reviews I
> found that there are actually quite a lot of games that easily have a
> "B"-rating and are not an "A" because of the caption/subtitle difference.
> However, as I read on, it turned out that most (if not all) "B"-rated games
> are FULLY playable while not having captions. Meaning: captioning was not
> present BUT captioning was not necessary for accessibility anyway.
> So, to end this random-thinking-writing of mine with a point: I just found
> out for myself that there are many games out there with subtitles and which
> only lack captions which are not needed anyway to play the game. Maybe we
> should do something with this information... because after leaving the GDC
> it seemed like there were only 3 accessible games for deaf gamers?
> Babble...
> Ries
> http://www.audiogames.net
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