Announcing 2015 DAGERS Diamond Award Nominees

2015 is over and now that we are done catching up with our schedule of reviews it is time to acknowledge the most accessible games of the previous year. In 2015 DAGERS was able to award 4 games with the rating of Barrier Free, because of this they are automatically nominated for the 2015 Diamond Award. The Diamond Award recognizes the highest standards of accessibility in gameplay among the games released in a given year. Check back next week to see which of these 4 games is the 2015 DAGERS Diamond Award winner.

And the nominees are;

Mortal Kombat X
This continuation of the last gen reboot gave disabled gamers a fully accessible arcade style fighter thanks to its fully remappable controls and distinct visual style. But those are features that are common in most arcade style fighters and therefore do not themselves merit a nomination for the Diamond Award. Mortal Kombat X is nominated for the Diamond Award because of 3 specific features implemented that make it the most accessible fighting game we’ve ever seen at DAGERS. First, the game gives players the option to create multiple sets of fully customizable controller layouts. Not only allowing fine motor disabled players to customize the controls not just based on their needs but based on their unique needs for each individual character. Second, Mortal Kombat X eliminated one of the most common barriers in the arcade fighter with its “accessibility mode” which gives visually impaired players full access to the games intractable objects with both highlighting them and playing a tone when the player is near. Finally Mortal Kombat signature fatalities are made accessible in this game through the earning of easy fatalities which gives fine-motor impaired gamers access for the first time to one of the least accessible aspects of the Mortal Kombat franchise. For more on the accessibility of Mortal Kombat X see our review here.

Invisible, Inc.
There’s not much to say about specific accessibility features within Invisible, Inc. Klei Entertainment started with an accessible genre and used that genre as a vehicle to provide gamers of all abilities with something very rare, a challenge. Invisible, Inc. can be a brutally hard turn based strategy game with a delightfully charming art style and suave espionage theme but the difficulty is only conveyed through the games core gameplay. Nothing about the games mechanics or visual style preclude it from being fully accessible for gamers with all types of physical impairments. Invisible, Inc. can be played with a single hand and does not rely on any one of the players senses to communicate vital detail. As a result players with disabilities can enjoy the unique challenge of this game without their disability negatively affecting their experience. Invisible, Inc. is a perfect example with how a completely accessible game still be very challenging and that is something worth acknowledging within the game industry. For more on the accessibility of Invisible, Inc. see our review here.

Heroes of the Storm
Last year mega developer Blizzard threw it’s hat into the moba ring for the first time and although due to its online nature we did not give it a hard rating, we at DAGERS think that it is crucial to acknowledge the remarkable thing that Blizzard has done with Heroes of the Storm. Historically mobas are plagued with toxic behavior that punishes players who make mistakes as well as over emphasis on individual performance which forces players to be good at certain very inaccessible skills such as last hitting creeps. In an effort to create a refreshing new MOBA Blizzard has done something much more impressive which is create what is at this point the game industries first and only fully accessible massive online battle arena game. While it is true that Heroes of the Storm may not be equally as accessible for every disabled gamer Blizzard should be acknowledged for being an accessibility pioneer in a previously inaccessible genre. We feel that Heroes of the Storm exceeds any current standards and sets a new definition for what is an accessible MOBA. For more on the accessibility of Heroes of the Storm see our impressions here.

Star Wars Battlefront
The last nominee for the 2015 Diamond Award is a game that many gamers regardless of ability have been waiting for. Star Wars Battlefront did one thing and did it very well an accessibly, it offered a Star Wars themed first person shooter. Battlefronts biggest strength is its simplicity. A lack of the story mode eliminated many possible pitfalls for auditory impaired gamers while full remappable weapon layouts and easy to execute gameplay made the game fully accessible for gamers with all types of impairments. Simplicity does not mean low quality. Star Wars Battlefront may be narrow in its scope but it is razor sharp in its execution and offers a first person shooter experience that is accessible to gamers who are looking for a great Star Wars themed experience. For more on the accessibility of Star Wars Battlefront see our review here.

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