Nintendo’s 1, 2 Switch collection of mini-games that probably should’ve been packed in with the Switch are little more than a pleasant distraction for most players. They use a series of visual, audio and haptic cues, with the Joy-Cons HD Rumble being a particular standout feature. But while they’re just novel for most players, at least for one they’re essential. Because for Rich Maroney, it’s one of the only reasons why he’s able to play the Switch with his wife at all.
At the age of 23, Rich was diagnosed with Diabetic Retinopathy, as a result of Type 1 diabetes. This left Rich blind, and (amongst many other difficulties) unable to really play games anymore. There are some ways around this, most of which fall to audio and physical cues that let one still interact with a primarily visual experience. But for the most part it ruled many games out. But only a handful in 1, 2 Switch.
Because 1, 2 Switch is more about interaction between players rather than a screen, many of its titles rely on some audible pings and physical vibrations to communicate information to the player. “Quick Draw”, for example, uses a shout from the Switch to tell players when to fire at each other, which the controllers simply measure and angle and button press. “Safe Crack” uses the magically accurate HD Rumble to simulate delicate vibrations when attempt to crack a mechanical safe, which cuts out the need to see the screen at all.
These, and a few others, have allowed Rich and his wife, Mandi Bundren, to play games together again. A real relief given that both have been anticipating the Switch’s launch since reveal last year. Mandi says that they didn’t expect 1, 2 Switch to be the game that held their attention the most, but the simplicity and ease of use have made it one of their favourites.
“When he got home from work at 7 I put the game in and asked him to play with me. I didn’t expect to play for more than 15 minutes, but it was after 9 before we quit.”
Accessibility in videogames is something that’s often glossed over, but it’s integral to the enjoyment of many players. A few titles now focus on implementing good colour-blind options and control schemes that can be tweaked to ease strenuous activities (such as mashing a button). But having to design a game entirely around just audio cues is difficult, if not impossible for most. There are some examples though, and Mandi hopes that others will come to the Switch in the near future.
“I’m eager to see what comes out with the Nintendo Switch. If they can incorporate the HD rumble and sound cues into some adventure and puzzle games so that Rich can play I’d be ecstatic!”
An adventure game or dungeon crawler entirely based on audio and physical cues? Sign me up for that.