Microsoft is hosting an accessibility summit this week. Whether it’s the Edge browser, Windows 11 operating system, or gaming division, the firm is full of innovations and services developed in collaboration with users with disabilities. Even Minecraft is becoming more accessible.
As you aim to win over the three billion players on the planet, including all media, you must know how to tailor your message just like your tools. The desire to make every service, every accessory, every philosophy as accessible as possible to as many people as possible has been clearly expressed in the minds of Microsoft for a long time. The instruments are getting more and more precise so that everyone can enjoy it all with the same ease.
On the occasion of the Microsoft Ability Summit on Tuesday, the Redmond-based firm unveiled new directions in many areas, from Windows 11 to Microsoft Edge via Xbox. Already at the forefront of accessibility on PC and consoles, Microsoft goes even further for its players.
Everything is ready to improve accessibility on console and PC
A few years ago, Microsoft launched the Xbox Insider Hub. A space that allows you to test and provide feedback on beta features, sometimes games, and various services. For several months now, the community of gamers with disabilities and able-bodied gamers who want to help improve accessibility in video games have been able to voice their opinion and discuss various options and features that will then be rolled out to consoles and PC.
The Xbox Accessibility Insider League (XAIL) was created to bring together over 158,000 players with disabilities and supporters of the community. They give their opinion on proposed accessibility features, suggest ideas for developers. They can also submit products and games for testing through the Microsoft Game Accessibility Testing Service (MGATS) to get feedback from the community.
” We all make games to play and we want as many people as possible to experience the worlds you create. This can only happen if players can experience your game and feel confident that they can play it.”explains Sarah Bonds, who is responsible for the experience of game creators and the Xbox ecosystem.
So with 400 million players with disabilities, this issue is taken very seriously on Seattle’s side. And above all, we know that initially everything goes through game developers, who now have a bible backing them in design (Xbox Accessibility Guide). It is also enriched with new mental health practices (a topic covered in the game). Psychonauts 2)work on text size or even motion sickness.
Xbox has developed a set of rules to develop a game that is perfect for all players // Source: Xbox
Developers can even take advantage of free online courses on the fundamentals of game design to make it more accessible, with a resource base available based on basic knowledge, community contacts and best practices, and hardware or software.
Easier to find the right game
For Microsoft, the most important thing is to let players enjoy their games. They still need to know which ones are made for them.
Now there is a way to better identify games that may fit their handicap. Last year, Xbox introduced the addition of an accessibility sheet with integrated options, features you would expect from a developer-packed game. Thus, about twenty of the most requested features are listed and displayed according to the names that support them.
Accessibility menu on Xbox // Source: Xbox
Xbox playlists will now have an accessibility label // Source: Frandroid
Features available in an Xbox game are now listed // Source: Frandroid
You can now sort your library of games (or games in the Xbox Store) for the best matches thanks to accessibility tags (custom volume control, subtitles, etc.) and the explore menu.
To also raise awareness of everyone’s disability, Microsoft announced the arrival of Minecraft: Education Edition fromBuildAbility, a themed world built around the barriers that players with disabilities often face. This world, more than designed for people with disabilities, wants healthy people to be aware of the difficulties and teach them to identify them, eliminate them in schools and communities.
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