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Color Blind Accessibility & Gaming: Designing Grand Arena of Serndall

Expanding a bit on the design team’s decision to include accessibility standards for color blind players, as announced today

Many current games, especially mobile and online games, rely heavily on the player’s ability to use colors in the game interface to identify critical parts of game play and state changes in the game. There is a problem if those are the only indicators of that component of the game…

…the game might be unplayable to about 8% of the population – the color blind.

That’s a pretty big segment of the gaming community to simply ignore. The fact that color blindness is ignored in many game designs – digital and board games – frustrates gamers so much that some have simply gone and created their own games.

Looking at the interface for Grand Arena of Serndall, it’s apparent that color is used to quickly and easily give information to the player.

 

greater_college_of_serndall_screen

This was a factor we were well aware of when designing the interface elements for Grand Arena of Serndall. The factors we focused on were related to informative pieces of the interface. Meaning anything that conveyed a dynamic game state must be in compliance. For example, the levels for hit points, experience, and spell points are primarily indicated by the associated stat bar.

 

Game stats example without color blind impaired vision.

 

Aware of a common non-compliant way of viewing stat levels, (green being the level, red being the difference from the maximum) we designed two contingencies in this part of the interface. This was to ensure alternative ways for viewing the level stats, yet usable for both standard vision and color blind players: text indicators relative to the current level and maximum, and maintaining a black background to represent the ration of current to maximum level.

This is how that section of the interface looks to color blind players with the most common types of color blindness.

Stats screenshot, run through vischeck to emulate how it's viewed by trianatope color blind players.
Stats screenshot, run through vischeck to emulate how it's viewed by pronatope color blind players.
Stats screenshot, run through vischeck to emulate how it's viewed by yellow/blue color blind players.

(Game stats example run through a color blind emulator, for all three types of color blindness, courtesy of Vischeck.)

 

While it’s not as easy to discern differences between the different statistics, the location and text labels provide enough of an indicator to make it playable. The design team believes we hit the mark with making the interface playable for both non-color blind and color blind folks. The question that still remains from that design phase is whether the extra accessibility accommodations make the interface too crowded or busy.

While we’re a really small shop, we’d like to make our games even more accessible for visually-impaired people. Hopefully, down the road, that option is there. We may have missed a couple of things, but we’re pretty satisfied with the result of this design.

 

The Greater College of Serndall screenshot, run through vischeck to emulate how it's viewed by red/green color blind players.

 

Looks very different than it does for the rest of us, isn’t it? Understanding that made this not an option for us, but something we felt we had to do.

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