Xbox Series X Accessible Hardware

Back in 2018, Microsoft surprised a lot of people when they announced the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which was designed to give disabled gamers more customization with customizable gaming tech (switch control, etc.). Now with next month’s release of the Xbox Series X, they seek to improve on their hardware accessibility even further. Recently, the design team opened up about adding tactile indicators on the ports for the new console. This is being designed both to assist gamers with visual impairments and for better cable management in general. The idea is you will be able to identify each port by touch because they will have a unique texture pattern, whether it be HDMI or USB. It’s an interesting addition, and I’m excited to see how it will work in practice once the Xbox Series X makes it to store shelves this November.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake

Prince of Persia was one of my favorite action games on the PS2! Ubisoft India plans on remaking that game from the ground up and improving upon the classic gameplay. They claim their priority is for anyone to be able to play the game, so they’ve added new accessibility in the form of difficulty levels and a more finely tuned targeting system. For now, the publisher is being tight lipped about specifics and just says the remake will have accessibility on par with their recent titles like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. If that’s true we can at least expect the game to have customizable controls and more options for subtitles. Some may remember that the original game had no subtitles at all, so that’s an area that could definitely benefit from inclusive design. I’ll be on the lookout for more accessibility news regarding The Sands of Time Remake, but until then look forward to playing this reimagining of a timeless classic in early 2021.

Overwatch League Custom Sign Language

Overwatch has a lot of great accessibility features in game, but some have expressed having difficulties watching the Overwatch League as a deaf fan. London-based Overwatch team Hangar 9 has come up with their own version of Overwatch sign language that they designed to help viewers with hearing impairments. They created the language using pictures of the game heroes to give the vocabulary visual context. Blizzard recently showed interest when presented this method and admitted they wanted to do better with the broadcast. Overwatch already has in-game captions with the ability to subtitle important information onscreen and character names. Still, those over at Hangar 9 believe the broadcast could be more inclusive for deaf players by having real-life transcribers instead of relying on pre-existing AI. Hopefully, Blizzard will take that into consideration for future broadcasts of the Overwatch League.

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