The use of video games has gained widespread popularity over the past few years. Despite the rise in indie developers and mainstream corporations bringing new standards of accessibility to the forefront of the gaming industry, there is still progress towards a more inclusive environment for all kinds of players. However, one group that has often been neglected is the blind and visually impaired gaming community.
As with The Last of Us Part 2, developers may pursue their own ideas or build upon what they have already created, depending on how Sea of Thieves handled its accessibility options.
Sometimes, however, players take matters into their own hands. This is hearthstone Access, the community around it, and how it was brought into existence by just one individual, known only as GuideDev.
Duck Hunt, an arcade game involving shooting ducks that appear on your television screen, was a popular game for Leigh for the most part of her life, although over the past decade, things have been very different. She was diagnosed with an illness that damaged her optic nerves, leaving her completely blind.
With a remarkable tenacity, Leigh refused to give up her passion for video games. "You don''t want to know how many mobile word games or mobile versions of basic card games we''ve ever seen over the years," she said. "Though I appreciated the effort put into it, none of these games were things my sighted friends and family would want to play with me. I think it''s a huge concern that the blind gaming community has missed having a game that sighted friends and friends may actually want to
Hearthstone Access is a custom approach to making Blizzard''s collectible card game accessible to visually impaired players by using keyboard navigation capabilities and screen reading software to display game information. One of the most popular digital card games, Hearthstone Access, is now available to a growing number of players who had never believed it to be accessible to them.
Fawaz, who was born with a low vision in one eye and a profound loss of vision in the other, explains how he found QuentinC''s Playroom, a social media platform that enables people to chat and interact with them.
When asked about his start playing Hearthstone, he notes that he had a sighted friend who talked about the game and explained to him what it was. "I got home and downloaded the game, but it was not accessible at all, like zero percent." Three months later Hearthstone Access was released.
"What the mod does, it''s quite fantastic. It''s very well integrated into the game," says Otto, a member of the Hearthstone Access community. "I have very little imagination. Colours can''t be too complex, and text would have to be very large. Many NES games would now be enjoyed with cheats, though.
He recently tried Hearthstone Access and was surprised how it sounded similar to the game. "If Blizzard could reintroduce this in-house, it would open up a lot more of the game to us," said Otto. "We should avoid the most terrible situation of waiting for the mod to update every time a new Hearthstone update comes out. "Blizzard should continue his work if possible."
It''s a sentiment that has been established around Hearthstone Access for the years since the mod''s release in August 2021, and GuideDev has been constantly adding new features while keeping up with the game''s updates. A recent patch update for Hearthstone included players waiting for almost two weeks, and GuideDev had to revamp a lot of what he built the Hearthstone Access patch on in order to make the game playable again.
After a traffic accident forced him to leave his job, GuideDev realized that he wanted to do something that would help someone. "I was always aware of accessibility difficulties, but sometimes you need a closer understanding of these things to be able to truly study the world and help," he said. After his accident, he ended up spending time with other people who had much better problems.
GuideDev notes that visually impaired individuals can enjoy the same experience as sighted people in games. "I discovered that most are just mods or bunches of script that people create to do things properly. "It''s not exactly like a visually impaired game," says the game''s founder.
For a game like Hearthstone, GuideDev has to update his accessibility patch every time the game updates. The day a new Blizzard patch comes out, and GuideDev updates the client and fixes that version. "It takes everything from top to bottom, and tells me when anything is broken. "It makes sure the code from the previous version works, but it''s pretty rare to see it working all the time."
With minor upgrades that involve card balance adjustments, Hearthstone Access does not require much work. But GuideDev often takes hours late into the night to make sure everything is functioning. (Due to a recent personal break, the mod has been out of commission since the last Hearthstone update, leaving the Hearthstone Access community waiting patiently for the next update.)
People are criticizing Blizzard for learning about the Hearthstone Access offerings they provide to the game. "It''s not Blizzard''s fault I chose their game, because I believed it was the perfect game for this. I don''t believe it''s right to shout at Blizzard to do this," says GuideDev.
Brandon, a prominent member of the Hearthstone Access community and blind accessibility consultant on The Last of Us 2, has been streaming Hearthstone with the mod ever since its release in August 2021. "I''m not even joking, I got at least two people from Blizzard that said they were hurt. It was an incredible moment where I was playing the game''s initial tutorial for the mod, according to Brandon. "It''s like it''s part of the game," said Brandon. "It''s
The mod includes a fully accessible tutorial that instructs the player how to play, as well as the standard game, solo adventures, practice mode, and, recently, the Battlegrounds mode, which is now technically the first fully blind accessible autobattler game.
Brandon admits that while it''s great to have an interaction with such a large gaming community like Hearthstone, they don''t know we''re blind unless we mention it. "It doesn''t mean we will become blind unless we mention it," he says. "It doesn''t mean we can''t pretend I''m sighted but the reactions I''ve received in the Hearthstone community have been universally positive. It''s really something special," he adds.
Because of the dangers experienced by blind players on Facebook, Brandon is reluctant to play multiplayer. It''s different for Hearthstone though. "A lot of people are unaware. It''s because I''m playing an overpowered deck and not because I''m blind. It''s a great feeling and I''m not sure if it''s possible to convey to blind people," Brandon says. "Imagine going from being judged for whatever reason to being judged for the same reason everyone else is, your deck choices. It
Brandon was invited to the theory crafting workshop that Blizzard is hosting to mark the launch of a new Hearthstone expansion. "I understand that being invited to the theory crafting event is somewhat of a PR thing. But that''s okay because it''s a big deal for the blind community who are fighting for accessibility in all games. It''s a lot to benefit from Hearthstone Access, this incredible effort that was done by one guy to make the game accessible."
The company Activision Blizzard has been engulfed for years now by controversy about quite a variety of topics. However, the developers'' attention to their game and the players who enjoy it is evident. The latest expansion, Murder at Castle Nathria, has been relaunched with an audio description video, which demonstrates that support. This represents the level of support that this community of players had never experienced before.
"This was a collaborative effort between our cinematics, user research, and publishing teams," says Chadd Nervig, a senior game designer and features design lead for Hearthstone at Activision Blizzard. "We''re really pleased that we were able to support it for this trailer, which is so atmospheric and where the music''s lyrics aren''t outright telling the audience what the story and theme are."
Chadd says he was able to keep an eye on Hearthstone Access while talking with GuideDev for current and future updates. "GuideDev did an amazing job in reforcing this tool, as well as providing accessibility solutions. We and our community are sincerely recognising for his dedication."
Given the positive feedback that Hearthstone will have on everyone''s mind, one of the questions is whether native accessibility will be a core of Hearthstone at some point in the future. Chadd agreed that improving the accessibility of the game is a goal that the team is constantly working on. "It''s a long journey, but we''re attempting to make steady progress on it over time."
The desire for more accessibility in video games as well as the possibilities that will be available to visually impaired gamers. This is one of the most significant issues when we talk about accessibility in video games. Players shouldn''t be forced to use workarounds to play their favorite games.