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Guest Post: The problem of being a colorblind gamer « Nitpixels

Guest Post: The problem of being a colorblind gamer

This post is brought to the pages of Nitpixels by a guest author. Want your words on Nitpixels? Send a pitch to mailbag@nitpixels.com.

A recent College Humor roundtable discussed the topic of enabling disable gamers. In the video, they featured a quadriplegic gamer who plays Call of Duty multiplayer (rather successfully) with just his face. This gamer, Chuck Bittner, is petitioning game developers for one simple thing: custom button remapping. If the button layout for a game is a certain way, he can’t play it. So he wants the ability to change the layouts to something that works for him.

I can’t play Aquaria because I can’t differentiate the colors for the different songs well enough. I didn’t buy Super Puzzle Figher II Turbo HD Remix because I couldn’t tell the difference between some of the blocks. I have massive trouble with Zuma because my eyes can’t tell the blue balls from the purple and the green balls from the yellow. When I play Risk: Factions I can’t tell the difference between the green and yellow territories and have to ask my fiancée which ones are which color.

That’s four statements that I shouldn’t have to make, but I have to because I’m red-green color blind. Normally, my colorblindness doesn’t affect my gaming. I have never had problems in World of Warcraft because of it, apart from the fact that I didn’t know that the experience bar is a different color depending on if you’re rested or not. However, when it does affect my game playing, it usually does so in a very significant way.

I firmly believe that making the design choices or putting in the options to accommodate color blind gamers wouldn’t be hard. Several games already have colorblind modes where they will place patterns over the colored objects to help the player tell the difference. But not all color-dependent games have features like this. My appeal to game developers everywhere is to allow us to edit the colors, to have or allow us to turn on easily distinguishable patterns, or be more considerate and thoughtful with color choices. It would really make a difference for those of us who have this problem

For Chuck, he is arguing that we should be fighting the game and not its controls. For me, I argue that I should be fighting the game and not struggling with my eyes’ ability to see color. These changes aren’t going to give the disabled a competitive edge. Even if they did, then everybody could elect to use them. It’s two small things that would really improve the quality of gaming for many people.

You can follow Henry Phillips on twitter as @taufmonster and on his blog at http://taufmonster.blogspot.com.

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  • http://taufmonster.blogspot.com Henry Phillips

    Fun fact: There’s a pattern in that picture and I can’t see it.

    What is it?

  • http://www.nitpixels.com Alex Ziebart

    One of the former WoW Insider writers was color blind and we talked about it often. Figuring out raid spell effects without the assistance of addons was an impossible hell.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tim-Diaz/601430147 Tim Diaz

    I have a friend who used to have to take every keycard to every door back in the 90s when the only thing that differentiated the cards was their color.  Green key for green door?  Trek across the level and use the key on every door.

    In a lot of cases, it’s so simple to just add a glyph or something to the item to make it different.  In games that are based on color, it’d be harder, true.  I’m not sure how one could set The Void up for colorblind gamers.

  • http://taufmonster.blogspot.com Henry Phillips

    I tutor kids and it always seems to come up that I’m color blind. This is followed by them quizzing me on the different colors of things. Every. time. 

    Also, my fiancee had these two floor cushions in her dorm room. It was months before I actually realized they were different colors.