Creating Accessible Experiences & Games 

Joshua Flitcroft
Senior UI Programmer
IO Interactive

Joshua Flitcroft

Joshua has been in the Games Industry for 8+ years, from working at Indie companies of 8 people to AAA companies with thousands across the globe. He is also an Accessibility Champion at IOI, trying to improve Accessibility in Video Games, because “When everybody plays, We all win”.

Accessibility in games has taken leaps forward in recent years. Ensuring that the broadest range of people can enjoy games is now taken seriously by studios large and small.

But there’s always more to learn and ways to improve. So, we were delighted to host Joshua Flitcroft as he delivered a virtual talk to our residents about creating accessible experiences and games.

Joshua is a senior UI programmer at IO Interactive and the studio’s accessibility advocate. 

Finding time for accessibility

Joshua started his presentation by defining accessibility and giving examples of how accessibility features have been successfully implemented in various games. He then tackled an issue developers can struggle with – finding time for accessibility.

As Joshua explained, it’s never too late to improve accessibility, even if your game has already been released.

“A year after launch, BROK the InvestiGator added a huge update that made the game fully playable for those without sight,” he said. “So it’s never too late to add these accessibility features and updates.”

As Joshua explained, releasing a large, single update isn’t the only way to approach this.

“Over three years, 39 Sea of Thieves updates had accessibility features and improvements. It shows that accessibility is something that we can continuously be thinking about and improving. Just like how we do updates to fix bugs or change and balance things in the game.”

 

Prioritising accessibility

Time, or lack of it, is a universal problem when it comes to game development. So, what areas should developers prioritise when it comes to accessibility?

“We usually start with access. If a player can’t get into a game, it doesn’t matter what the gameplay is,” Joshua explained.

Another approach that studios should consider is impact versus cost.

“Something like controller remapping has a high impact but also a high cost. It can take a lot of time to get it working with the game and the UI. Maybe we don’t have time for that,” Joshua said. “But something like traversal assist, which has a medium impact but a smaller cost, maybe something that can be implemented more feasibly with the time we have available.”

 

Signing off

Talks like Joshua’s are a regular feature of the Tentacle Zone, a shared workspace in Farringdon, London, home to 12 studios. If you work in games, maybe you’d like to join us?

We have full-time space available as well as hotdesks and meeting rooms. For the full lowdown, head to our workspace and resident pages. If you have questions or want to book a visit, drop us a line. We look forward to hearing from you!