Sony is no stranger to providing quality hardware. Their PlayStation 3 is a perfect example of this. Not only does it have the high quality components like a built in Blu-Ray player, it’s also home to such memorable exclusives as God of War and Uncharted. All these factors combine to mean that Sony’s console is one of the most popular on the market.
Because of its popularity, we at DAGERS decided to look at it next in our series on hardware accessibility.
As with most systems, a hearing impairment will not affect the enjoyment of the PS3, since all the menus and functions are explained in text, and any sound internal to the system is merely an add-on. However, if a player has a sight disability, there are a few things they may struggle with when dealing with the PlayStation 3 operating system. The main issue is that there is not very good contrast between the default background of the operating system and the text itself. The background is silver, and the text is white. Also, because the text is white, it can show up blurry on a standard definition TV. But the issue with the contrast, at least, can be dealt with by changing to a different theme or background that makes it easier to see the text.
From the standpoint of fine motor, the PlayStation 3 has fewer issues than its competitors, but the issues tend to be larger and tend to have more of a negative impact on gameplay. First of all, the D-pad is divided up into four distinct buttons. As a result, it takes a great deal of accuracy or practice to be able to press the correct directional button without looking. The start, select, and system menu buttons are also smaller than competitors’ systems, which means more accuracy is required to pause a game without looking. The triangle, square, circle, and x buttons are slightly larger than comparable buttons on other systems and do have high contrast due to the black background behind brightly-colored symbols. These buttons are also flat, which makes it easier for players to keep their fingers on the correct buttons even when their hands shake. Combine that with the fact that the joysticks are parallel and sit close together in the center of the controller (making it easy to manipulate both with one hand), and it is easy to see why the face of the PlayStation 3 controller could be considered one of the most accessible interfaces in the industry.
But there is still a major problem that arises with this controller when the shoulder buttons are examined. Because the controller slants forward, if a disabled player needs to play with it laying on a table or desk, they will often find themselves accidentally pressing the bottom trigger buttons by putting too much pressure on the face of the controller. For example, while playing through Fall of Cybertron for the recent review, the PS3 controller was placed on a lap tray. As a result, there was a problem with the character lunging whenever the buttons on the face on the controller were pressed hard enough. This meant that in the midst of a battle where the player is trying to dodge rockets, they could end up charging straight into a group of enemies simply because the L2 button became pressed as a result of pressing down too hard on the up arrow on the D-pad. The triggers on the PS3 controller also present a problem when gaming because they are slanted forward, which makes gripping the triggers that much harder for someone with fine motor challenges. As big as these two challenges are, it’s nice that both the triggers and the shoulder buttons are easy to find just by touch.
Even though the Sony PS3 has some major accessibility issues, it should still be considered as a top choice when looking for an accessible system, because the problems that it does have should only affect a limited portion of disabled gamers.