Home Gaming How Uncharted 4 tackled player accessibility, and why it’s so important

How Uncharted 4 tackled player accessibility, and why it’s so important

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How Uncharted 4 tackles accessibility

“What developers need to realize is that these games do more than just entertain the disabled. First of all they provide an escape, from sort of the doldrums of being disabled. And second of all they provide a social space where, instead of being judged by physical appearance, we’re judged by the actions we do and the things that we produce in the game.”

That’s Josh Straub, the editor-in-chief of a website called DAGERS (Disabled Accessibility for Gaming Entertainment Rating System), which takes a different look at videogame critique. Instead of focusing on the in-game models, visual fidelity, design and other traditional facets of game design, Straub looks only at one department: accessibility. Being a disabled gamer, accessibility is paramount to Straub, which is why he reached out to Naughty Dog during the development of Uncharted 4.

Having been a massive Uncharted fan, Straub recounted his experience with Uncharted 2 to Naughty Dog’s user interface designer Alexandria Neonakis at GDC. He recalled how he loved the game, but ultimately wasn’t able to complete it thanks to a series of button-mashing doors near the end. Straub, having a condition that seriously handicaps the use of his hands and their reflex speeds, simply couldn’t do it. And because of that, he couldn’t finish a game he truly loved.

How Uncharted 4 tackles accessibility 2

Neonakis resonated with the story, and acknowledged that Straub wasn’t just a rare case. Thousands of disabled gamers are frequently restricted from partaking in their favourite videogames because of accessibility, and it’s a department where Neonakis didn’t want Uncharted 4 to falter. She took Straub’s story to the game’s directors, and the focus to offer accessible options within the game soon became a studio focus.

The result? Well it’s easy to miss (because unaffected gamers like me and possibly you don’t look for them), but Uncharted 4 has a rich feature set specifically for accessibility. The game offers help with camera movement during exploration and combat, as well as varying options for enemy lock-on, button mashing melee and more. They’re simple tweaks that make the world of difference to someone like Straub, who can now enjoy Uncharted 4 without the fear of running into impossible tasks.

And it’s paid off. Straub, who recently reviewed the game for DAGERS, gave Uncharted 4 his highest recommendation, with it being “completely barrier free” for players with visual, fine-motor or auditory disabilities.

“When I turn on a game like Uncharted, I’m not, you know, confined to a wheelchair. I’m a swashbuckling, ne’er-do-well treasure hunter, like Nathan Drake. That brief period of escape is why accessibility is so crucial. Because the more games that offer that, the more people with disabilities will be able to escape and have better lives.”

Uncharted 4 isn’t the first feature accessibility features, but it’s certainly the most inclusive I can think of in recent memory.  It’s a benchmark that other games should strive to hit as much as possible during development, so that players don’t have to worry about what hand life has dealt them in order to enjoy a little escapism.

 

Last Updated: May 20, 2016

40 Comments

  1. Falling from great heights? NO PROBLEM, just use your FIST TO SOMEONE’S FACE TO BREAK YOUR FALL!!!

    Reply

    • oVg whippersnapper

      May 20, 2016 at 13:39

      • MacDoodle

        May 20, 2016 at 16:38

        Holy crap that looks better than some movie’s, must be the small screen

        Reply

        • oVg whippersnapper

          May 20, 2016 at 17:02

          The framerate on that gif does not do it any justice, and yes, the in game engine is the same as any CGI film. Its so sweet.

          Reply

  2. RinceThis

    May 20, 2016 at 13:13

    Yet another Doom article. You guys are totally biased!

    Reply

    • oVg whippersnapper

      May 20, 2016 at 13:19

      What? an article of a game that came out 11 days ago. What is this? 😛

      Reply

  3. Original Heretic

    May 20, 2016 at 13:15

    Wow, this is an aspect of gaming that I’ve never ever had to consider. But now I can see how many, many games would be inaccessible to those that don’t have finer motor skills.
    Hats off to Naughty Dog for taking this as seriously as they did. I respected these guys before, now they just gone and increased that respect.

    Reply

  4. oVg whippersnapper

    May 20, 2016 at 13:17

    “The “Uncharted” games have never excelled at storytelling. Instead, they’ve used it an accompaniment to overwhelming visual technology. The games have always struck me as garish more than gorgeous, more interested in overwhelming the senses than communicating with them.”

    4/10 Washington Post

    Reply

    • RinceThis

      May 20, 2016 at 13:20

      He should play Doom, loads of story there.

      Reply

      • oVg whippersnapper

        May 20, 2016 at 13:22

        EISH “A Thief’s End” is less a conclusion to Nathan Drake’s story than an affirmation of the inconclusive wreck it has always been.”

        fcuking noob.

        Reply

        • RinceThis

          May 20, 2016 at 13:23

          lol

          Reply

          • oVg whippersnapper

            May 20, 2016 at 13:24

            Never excelled at story telling… EISH

            Little wonder Troy Baker wanted this shit removed from metacritic.

          • RinceThis

            May 20, 2016 at 13:28

            Just trolls looking for hits.

          • oVg whippersnapper

            May 20, 2016 at 13:28

            You summed up the international bar of videogame journalism.

          • RinceThis

            May 20, 2016 at 13:31

            But LG is international 0_O

          • oVg whippersnapper

            May 20, 2016 at 13:37

            😛

        • Darren Peach

          May 20, 2016 at 13:29

          I have a spare nuke. You want it ?

          Reply

          • oVg whippersnapper

            May 20, 2016 at 13:35

            Unfortunately everybody is entitled to their opinions. It does not lesser my experience, but when laymen are turned off… by what is blatantly perverse…

            NUKE TIME 😛

    • Darren Peach

      May 20, 2016 at 14:07

      Think about what his colleagues will think in the long term when the game has universal acclaim. He will come across looking like a douche.

      Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      May 20, 2016 at 14:17

      I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the writer wears a beret and complains bitterly about the bourgeoisie.

      Reply

    • Darren Peach

      May 20, 2016 at 14:18

      Let me break it down for you. This guy works for a reputable news organisation. I guess that gives him a sense of importance and relevance in our world. Hey, If I worked for The Washington Post, I might just feel the same way. But, It is obvious that this fool is using his very public platform to express his inner most introspection through game journalism to apply his jaded opinionated view to separate himself from the mainstream riffraff in order to elevate his self ordained self righteous ramblings to that of a uber hipster that is so hipstery that he couldn’t be bothered with the mundane reasoning that the rest of us are held back by. He lives in a plane of existence that is reserved for those endowed with IQ’s in the thousands. His word will on day be take to be a new form of gospel that is so profound that humanity will quiver in all it’s wisdom and might. I shudder at the thought. That, or he is a total fart.

      Reply

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        May 20, 2016 at 14:37

        Yeah I’ve never been a fan of flowery language in reviews. It’s usually an indicator that the writer is very impressed with themselves & will happily talk down to us common folk.

        That said, I got to use “sumptuous” in an article the other day! Was quite pleased with that.

        Reply

        • Darren Peach

          May 20, 2016 at 14:41

          That’s what I often do. I like to sound important. Problem is nobody takes me seriously.

          Reply

  5. oVg whippersnapper

    May 20, 2016 at 13:40

    I FCUKING LOVE THE ART DIRECTION. It beats The Goonies.

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      May 20, 2016 at 14:05

      I never saw Kaer Morhen from that angle.

      Reply

  6. oVg whippersnapper

    May 20, 2016 at 13:44

    I have never seen subsurface scattering like this before. Just seeing the shadows cast on top of a palm leaf from underneath blew me away.

    AND AS FOR THE FIRST EXPLOSION IN THE GAME. I paused for a second.

    Reply

    • Darren Peach

      May 20, 2016 at 13:56

      You have. Watch any modern animated movie. Frozen for example. Also, Most PS4 characters have it. Lara, Aiden from Watchdogs. It gives the skin a different look. It is not real sub surface scattering. No console can do it properly. Think about it. The way it works is light get absorbed into the skin shader and bounces around and diffuses giving the skin a inner glow. Like real skin.

      Reply

      • oVg whippersnapper

        May 20, 2016 at 14:00

        I noticed it for the first time when I shone the torch onto a red crate and it reflected the colour to the surroundings. I have never noticed it on console before. The PS4 is a beast, only negative are the shadows.

        Reply

        • Darren Peach

          May 20, 2016 at 14:03

          Yeah, Go play a older game and look at the characters. Small increments. But they do add up after some time.

          Reply

      • oVg whippersnapper

        May 20, 2016 at 15:13

        FROZEN?… 😛

        Reply

        • Darren Peach

          May 20, 2016 at 16:04

          LOL, busted.

          Reply

  7. oVg whippersnapper

    May 20, 2016 at 13:46

    This also blew me away

    http://i.imgur.com/cP2xQME.gifv

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      May 20, 2016 at 14:01

      What a dick. He just shot that rock. IT WAS ONE WEEK AWAY FROM RETIREMENT.

      Reply

      • oVg whippersnapper

        May 20, 2016 at 15:15

        The smaller rock was getting married next week 🙁

        Reply

  8. oVg whippersnapper

    May 20, 2016 at 13:49

    Not a single person has spoken about the multiplayer yet. Does the rope gameplay work?

    Reply

  9. oVg whippersnapper

    May 20, 2016 at 13:54

    The Order 1886, is now dated… Shame. 😛

    Reply

  10. oVg whippersnapper

    May 20, 2016 at 13:55

    Dont forget to download the U4 audio app.

    Reply

  11. oVg whippersnapper

    May 20, 2016 at 13:56

    There, my job here is done, before the next U4 article pops up 2 weeks from now for sales figures.

    Reply

    • Darren Peach

      May 20, 2016 at 14:39

      I scanned his review. One thing that stuck out was he used the term useless detail. Boy, Imagine how far we would have come as a species had we ignored attention to detail. Put man on the moon, Fuck it. Lets use a teeter totter and some bricks. Penicillin, Screw it, The blood is bad. All we need to do is expel it. A cure or vaccine for the black plague, Screw it, Kill the rats and let Darwinism run it’s course. You see, This guy is a fool. I guess there is a argument to be made as to why his view is important. Keeping developers honest. A measure against mediocrity ? The annals of time will decide how important his review is.

      Reply

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