2015 Diamond Award Winner

2015 DAGERS Diamond Award Winner

Last year saw 4 titles earn the rating of Barrier Free; Mortal Kombat X, Invisible, Inc., Star Wars Battlefront, and Heroes of the Storm all exemplify high standards of accessibility within their genre and their developers vision but only one of these games earned the Diamond Award. Not because of its overall accessibility but because of its pioneering nature that sets a brand new standard for accessible gameplay in a previously inaccessible genre.

And the winner is…

Heroes of the Storm
When Blizzard Entertainment released Heroes of the Storm last summer they did more than release a MOBA in which you could play as Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft characters. They released the first MOBA that made more than a token effort towards accessibility. It seems that Blizzard set out to create a more forgiving and approachable experience that was not plagued by the toxic hyper competitiveness of its predecessors. To do this they implemented several features that not only improved the experience for able bodied gamers but also helped Heroes of the Storm set a new standard for MOBA accessibility and secure this year’s Diamond Award.
To begin with Heroes of the Storm focuses more on performance as a team more than performance as an individual. This means that players with limited fine motor skills can contribute to the team without having to worry about last hitting creeps or executing complicated skill shots. Many times simply being in the area and contributing with passive or area of effect abilities is enough to swing a fight in your teams favor which gives the disabled player a role they can fill which does not rely on their physical disability. Combine that with the fact that the game features a color blind accessibility mode and no reliance on sound or fine detail to communicate information and it should be clear why Heroes of the Storm is deserving of recognition as a Barrier Free game.

But what earns Heroes of the Storm the 2015 DAGERS Diamond Award is the fact that this game offers something that disabled gamers crave but don’t often get. A competitive environment in which they can interact with their peers with little accommodation or frustration. The editor who reviewed Heroes of the Storm was able to make it to the required level to play in ranked with no help from his peers. He had games where his kills and assists far outnumbered his deaths. This illustrates that Heroes of the Storm gives disabled players the ability to contribute to a competitive environment. Because of this Heroes of the Storm by Blizzard Entertainment is deserving of the 2015 DAGERS Diamond Award for innovations in the field of game accessibility.

On behalf of disabled gamers everywhere DAGERS would like to congratulate Blizzard Entertainment on setting this new standard and earning the 2015 DAGERS Diamond Award.

Josh Straub

Written by: Josh Straub

At the end of his internship with GameInformer magazine, Josh Straub graduated from Southwest Minnesota State University with a degree in creative writing and history. His earliest gaming memories are of looking over his father’s shoulder while he played Warcraft 2. While these experiences gave him a deep appreciation for the RTS genre, Josh seeks to play games across all genres and platforms due to his interest in game accessibility for the disabled. This interest stems from too many experiences in which he has hurled his controller across the room after finding out that a game was inaccessible, due to his Cerebral Palsy. Because of his wide exposure and interest in games, Josh appreciates the story of a game more than any other element, especially because the stories of the games of his childhood provided him with an invaluable sense of escape from his disability.

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