5 new accessibility tools to help game developers

Leading game developer, Electronic Arts (EA) has announced that it will make five of its proprietary accessibility tools free to use by other game developers. Four of these tools are part of EA’s Positive Play Patent Pledge that launched in August 2021. With these new additions, EA has open-sourced a total of 15 patented accessibility tools through this initiative.  

“Our patent pledge was created on the principle that everyone, no matter their background, should be able to enjoy video games,” says Kerry Hopkins, SVP of global affairs at EA. “We want to enable developers across the community to break down barriers to participation, create safer, more inclusive, more accessible, and ultimately more fun experiences for players worldwide.” 

The pledge covers five patents around accessibility at present, but EA will be adding more to the pledge as it continues to innovate in this space. 

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Five tools to help disabled gamers 

The five new open-source accessibility tools are designed to support disabled players.  Graphic of a game controller with buttons and arrows

The Automated Player Control Takeover detects when a player disengages from a game and converts their character into a bot. Using data it already knows about the player makes the system-controlled character resemble the player’s gameplay style. This feature makes games more accessible for disabled players who not be able to interact with the game temporarily. 

The Adaptive Gaming Tutorial System lets games give players personalised in-game guidance based on their skill or play style. This technology uses data from both the user and other players to determine what commands it recommends to players. This lets developers reduce specific in-game barriers for disabled players. 

Similarly, EA’s Animated and Personalised Coach for Video Games allows developers to give players a personalised in-game coach. These coaches give players tailored insights to improve their skills, which enhances their gaming experience.  

Another patent is for EA’s Route Navigation System was initially implemented in ‘Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’. The tool makes it easier for players with sight loss or neurodiverse conditions to navigate complex game environments. The system generates several route options based on aggregated player data and displays guiding lines to direct players through the levels. 

Finally, EA has also made its IRIS photosensitivity test available to all developers. IRIS simplifies the process of detecting flashing lights or rapidly changing spatial patterns that could trigger photosensitivity issues during game development.  

Electronic Arts Accessibility Portal Graphic of a person using a laptop with dots and lines beside them

Alongside its Patent Pledge, the company also launched the Electronic Arts Accessibility Portal in which players can find game-specific information on accessibility features, voice concerns and suggest improvements.  

The opening statement on the portal sets out their mission for a more inclusive gaming future; “At EA, our mission is to inspire the world to play. As part of our commitment to this, we want to make sure that gaming is inclusive for everyone and that nothing comes between our players and our shared love for video games.”  

EA’s commitment to making video games more accessible to disabled players is commendable. The company’s patent pledge and open-sourcing of accessibility tools will help developers create safer, more inclusive, more accessible, and ultimately more fun experiences for players worldwide.  

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