Today I’d like to discuss inclusive design in relations to two of my favorite companies, “Riot Games” and “Blizzard Entertainment”. I’d also like to focus on how other designers have equipped disabled gamers in order for them to play as efficiently. Inclusive design is the careful consideration put into constructing methods to either include or exclude certain people from a topic. For example some games are made to accommodate for the colour blind and others don’t even take it into consideration. Before we delve deeper into the subject let’s give a history of two industry giants that will be the target focus.
Blizzard started their humble journey as a three-man production team that went under the title Silicon and Synapse in 1991. While under this title they went on to make three games that were made primarily for the Super NES as well as eight other ports. Later they changed to Blizzard and went forward to make many titles however three went on to become their legacy; Warcraft, Diablo and Starcraft. Another one of their big titles that was released recently was Overwatch. This game will be one of the big topics in this blog as it serves as a prime example of inclusive design.
Riot are probably one of the most inspiring companies in the computer industry. Starting in 2006 as an indie company they grew off of one title alone known as “league of legends”. This one game is refereed to as a rather unique genre known as a “MOBA” or “Massive online battle arena”. In it’s earlier years it was arguably very clunky both visually and game play wise. Now however the game has gone through so many changes transforming it into a gorgeous free-flowing game with an incredibly captivating aesthetic.
Disabilities come in a very vast range and effect a large number of the population. In fact statistics estimate the 19 percent of men and 18 percent of women are effected in Australia. That’s approximately one in every five. These statistics alone show the importance of inclusive design in the gaming industry.
Controls and Key Bindings.
Key bindings are an essential part of gaming, allowing the users to create a setup that they are comfortable with. League of Legends kit is especially compatible. As seen in the video below this gamer suffers from Amyoplasia Arthrogrypos. However with the compatibility that League of Legends offers him the ability to set up a gaming rig that suits him. The penta kill that he get’s in this game statistically only happens 1 in every 1500 games.
Colour blindness may not seem that significant of a thing, however some games rely very heavily on colours. We can imagine that not being able to tell clearly who’s on your team and who is the enemy can be very frustrating. This goes especially for fast paced games like Overwatch and League of legends. This problem effects one in every twelve men. Now this is where inclusive design comes into perspective. League of Legends has an alternate colour scheme built into its options. Blizzard one ups this by not just providing one alternative, but three more accommodating options for different types of colour loss including Deuteranopia, Protanopia and Tritanopia. Additionally the strength of the colour can be adjusted as well. The only negative to this design is that colour blind users have been struggling with the Deuteranopia mode meaning Blizzard may need to investigate into a potential change in the future.
Gender is a huge role in the gaming community to date and designers are only just realizing the ratio. It is estimated that the gamers are now half and half when it comes to gender. With this the issue of female game characters being over sexualized has been brought into light. Blizzard and Riot handle this in two completely different ways. Not so long ago there was a big controversy fixated on the poster girl of Overwatch “Tracer”. The community argued that one of her key poses was too sexualized and out of character. Normally this uproar would be ignored however Blizzard stepped in and made a change to suit the people. This resulted in a much more dynamic and in character look.
Riots view on this is completely different. Without a doubt League of Legends is one of the worst offenders in this topic. Characters such as Ahri and Miss Fortune create a stir in the community with there exaggerated appeal. But instead of changing this they decided on a different sort of equality and thus Taric was born. This character is a personal favourite of mine. “Taric” is the alleged guardian of life, love, and beauty. With the quote “The best weapons are beautiful.” With a personality as chiseled as his chest it’s hard to hate this character.
One of the things these games have in common is the variety of characters they have. Every character have their own unique kit that change the way the game is played. Why is this inclusive design? Well the combined number of these two games currently rests at 152 characters. That’s 152 different ways to play two different games. What this means is that you can play to your strength, do you want something fast but agile, slow but tanky or far back and out of the fight?
So these games have shown inclusive design in regards to both disabilities and gender politics alike. This process has by far rewarded these companies, they two of the most streamed games of recent. I think all companies and new comers of the industry should liken to the idea of making games designed to appeal for a broad spectrum.
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