To do this, according to Mior, indie game communications teams need to understand the depth of accessibility features in the games they’re talking about – something that’s made easier at Whitehorn Games by having an accessibility manager dedicated.
All of this demonstrates the need for a holistic approach that does not stop at accessibility-focused design driven by disabled stakeholders. “It starts with the development team making accessibility a priority as early as possible,” says Roach. “But it’s also crucial to have marketing and communications teams involved from the start.”
When communications teams can plan for these considerations in advance, it allows them to develop a more diverse and timely agenda. This is important because “a variety of media types (video, graphic representations, text),” Mior says, allows audiences to access “this information in the way that works best for them.”
But we can go further in this holistic approach. If publishers are to spearhead improvements in accessibility communication, quality media coverage can be just as valuable. We are seeing progress here as well. WIRED and Eurogamer provide accessibility coverage from a range of voices, while IGN has launched a regular accessibility column. This is tempered elsewhere, however, where media coverage – if it exists – is about tracking agricultural trends and engagement rather than a sincere and critical examination of accessibility.
Indeed, one of the media’s most valuable potential resources for accessibility information falls far short of what it could – and should – be. Reviews can provide information that helps non-disabled gamers make informed decisions about games, and they should do the same for disabled gamers.
“The challenges and skills needed for an accessibility review are many and varied,” says Martínez. Current data suggest that reviewers inexperienced in accessibility struggle to achieve this goal. “Without someone who understands this from experience, mistakes may be made, information may not be complete or accurate. »
Some specialized sites like Can I play this? provide detailed information about accessibility through reviews, but the majority of reviews in mainstream media that include accessibility – and there are not many – come from non-disabled journalists, and accessibility is reduced to a list of options that, despite some publishers’ claims, have little bearing on how games are rated.
After all, if we want to critically examine how accessibility is communicated by publishers – and we should – it behooves us to recognize our own shortcomings.
Looking at this broader communications landscape, consensus on solutions seems remarkably simple on paper. First, accessibility information is at its best when it is user-focused, that is, involving people with disabilities in the process. Second, the earlier this happens, both in terms of implementation and communication, the better the results.
It’s not that easy, of course. Communicating about accessibility has many challenges, but gamers with disabilities deserve to be informed. Anything that builds trust and transparency can only be a positive thing for the gaming industry: creating a healthier environment, integrating gamers with disabilities into the hype, and providing important avenues for feedback throughout the game. throughout the development process.
By focusing too much on the technical aspects of accessibility, it’s easy to forget about communication. This can happen in the media, and it certainly still happens at the publisher level, meaning vital information is not reaching players.
Martínez believes that this approach “misses the point”. He continues: “Accessibility is necessary for gamers, and emphasizing it not only allows for informed purchases, but also shows gamers that they are a valuable part of their community. »