Game developers missing an opportunity

I consider myself quite unique (until someone proves me wrong) that I must be one of the very few women aged 40 to play video games. I’m probably considered a relative Grandma as a gamer but still play anything from Call of Duty to Lego games. In some ways I fell embarrassed to admit it but then again, what the hell I enjoy it.

I was very luck that I got a BBC Micro computer when they came out in 1981. I never looked back when it came to playing computer games and then moved into video games on consoles like the Sega Mega Drive and handhelds like the Nintendo DS. I prefer playing on consoles to PC’s when it comes to games (apart from some Facebook games) but love working on PC’s too. I currently have an Xbox 360 and I will be getting the new Xbox One when I have saved enough pennies.

For me games were just about the gameplay but over the years I have changed and so has my view on gaming. I am now more enthralled by the design and story first and then the gameplay. When playing Assassin’s Creed I marvelled at the detail that had gone into the game, the clothes, scenery and even the way the everyday people went about their lives. The developers are putting so much thought into the detail of games now and making you feel more immersed in the game by making it more realistic. That said, very rarely (and I’m struggling to find one example so it may be never) has a disabled person been seen in one, not even mingling in the general public let alone a main character. Another example is Candy Crush, instead of just playing the game I’m looking at the colours, character design, lighting etc. There are so many games that use the same principle yet it takes great design and development to create yet another of the same style game and make it so different that people will want to play it, well done

With the advent of Microsoft’s Kinect ( for more information) developers can make games where you are the controller and responds to movement, gestures and even speech. With such awesome technology why is it not so inclusive? A recent article ( announced that the Kinect Sensor can be modified for wheelchair users, great news but I’m surprised it has taken this long. My question is why are Games developers not modifying games for disabled users?

There is such scope to include people with disabilities yet developers seem to be missing a valuable audience. I know, I know, they would say it is too costly to develop a game specifically for say wheelchair users, because it is such a minority they may feel they wouldn’t get the return on their investment. I say they don’t need to make a game solely for wheelchair users but can incorporate it into games they are making. For example Nike+ Kinect Training could have had a section for amputees, wheelchair users and people with limited mobility. There are plenty of other exercises that could have been introduced for people while sitting. Wheelchair Tai Chi is another example that could be added to a health or fitness game in the making. If a person is playing a Kinect Sports running game and they cant run then make another gesture available, i.e. using your arms in the way you would when running. For people with visual impairments text could have the option of being displayed bigger, I know this will impact on the game screen but the person can make the choice. Choice, I like that word but at the moment many disabled people don’t have much choice about the physical games they can play. Eventually games controllers will be an antique and the use of body and speech will be the norm, great if you have a speech or mobility issue, what will they do?

Gaming is changing and so are the demands of disabled people, and to some extent the elderly too. There is so much scope to use this technology in amputee gyms, hospital rehabilitation and old peoples homes. From Tai Chi to board games they can be done on a console, from getting people up and moving, increasing coordination, brain stimulation etc. etc., the list is endless. All it takes is some thought, imagination, talking and listening to disabled people and the issues they have. All it will take is one developer to incorporate an inclusive package and all the others will follow suite. Who will be the pioneering games development team to break the mould and make games more inclusive?

P.S. if any games developers out there would like to hire me and pay me lots of money, I’m more than happy to help with ideas and have plenty of suggestions.

P.P.S. this is not directly aimed at Microsoft’s Kinect (used as the example as they are the only ones with this capability at this time) but any console manufacturer who has or will have the same technology they can use in the future.

*My previous posts about Xbox Kinect can be read here:-

Xbox One

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