The rising inclusion of accessibility options is one of the more positive changes in gaming right now. From controller adaptability to making entertainment safer for epileptics, there are many ways that developers are working on making gaming even better. The most popular area of focus over the last several years is colorblindness and how it can impact games, especially so with shooters. It's because of that growing need that the studio behind PUBG MOBILE have implemented their own colorblind feature into the game. But why now?
When speaking with Eric Cleaver, the Global Head of Community for PUBG MOBILE, we asked what was the driving force behind adding this feature now since the mobile launch has been available for quite some time now. According to Cleaver, this feature has been in the works for months but it was actually the community that fast-tracked it:
"This feature has been in the works for a number of months. In this case, it actually arose from a player suggestion on Reddit about the Arena Team Deathmatch Mode where they were having difficulty with Red Dot optics in particular. All they wanted was a different optical attachment to be available, but when we brought the issue to the attention of the dev team they quickly realized that color vision impairment would have a significant impact on many more areas of the game. A core team was assigned to review and find areas where we could make real improvements in all areas; the result was not only a large degree of customizability in all optics in-game , but changes to how key aspects of the game like red bombing zones and the dreaded blue zone can be customized to display on the map.
"Ideally, we would have got it in at launch, this is an area where our experiences now will really help us with future games. Building up that library of best practices, one step at a time, is key in our efforts to improving in this area. We can take this and potentially bake it into future product design. Potentially we can even invite in outside testers with experience with various accessibility challenges to help us evaluate how successful our efforts are, and where we need to do better."
Taking the time to do this feature right instead of just throwing it in there is smart and something that many other studios are implementing as well. While this should always be included in launch plans, the old adage of "better late than never" applies, especially in terms of delivering quality like the PUBG MOBILE team has dedicated themselves to since day one.
Another growing area in terms of accessibility is epileptic triggers. Yes, there's that "warning" label at the beginning of games, but that does nothing to actually help titles be more epileptic friendly. Sometimes it's as easy as a color swap to make safer changes. When I was discharged from the US Navy due to an injury, one of the symptoms from the chemical attack was seizures. Since then, I've noticed how triggering some games can be with flashes and particular design choices, something that I was never aware of before seizures became a reality for me.
Cleaver tells Prima Games that his wife is also epileptic, which prompted the question on how game design can target this particular concern: "This is a deeply personal topic for me, as my wife was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2017. The range of triggers for different people is so wide that it’s a real challenge; there are common ones like strobing lights, but for many people they are incredibly individual. We haven’t gotten any feedback on this topic, it’s something we’d love to hear from people impacted about their experiences. We do strongly recommend that anyone who is diagnosed with epilepsy talk to their neurologist about potential triggers and which activities are safe for them."
It's a challenge but one that I'm personally glad to see more and more developers pay attention to, especially in games that have a mobile platform as well because triggering a neurological episode while away from a safe place is dangerous for more than just the obvious reasons.
As for what else the team is looking at in terms of accessibility, Cleaver added "Accessibility is a never-ending project, there are so many different angles to tackle. We have of course added Color Blind Mode and our UI is incredibly customizable allowing people to create a UI that works for them and their abilities. One of our big focuses right now is more around the areas of economic accessibility and improving the performance of PUBG MOBILE on less-powerful devices. It’s easy to take economic accessibility issues for granted, but the variety of devices in service currently isn’t limited to the latest generation of smartphones. PUBG MOBILE currently runs on a wide variety of devices, including the later generations of iPod Touch for instance, but we want to do more to empower all our players by improving the functionality on more modest hardware."
For those looking for a solid shooting experience on the go, PUBG MOBILE is available and now with more accessibility options than ever before!