Microsoft is holding its Accessibility Summit this week. Whether for its Edge browser, its Windows 11 operating system or its gaming branch, the firm is full of innovations and services designed in collaboration with users with disabilities. Even Minecraft is becoming more accessible.
When you aim to conquer the three billion players on the planet, all media combined, you have to know how to adapt your message as much as your tools. The message has long been very clear in the minds of Microsoft with the desire to make each service, each accessory, each philosophy as accessible to as many people as possible. The tools are becoming more and more precise so that everyone can enjoy the whole thing with the same ease.
On the occasion of his Microsoft Ability Summit organized this Tuesday, the Redmond 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.
All ready to improve accessibility on console and PC
A few years ago, Microsoft launched its Xbox Insider Hub. A space that allows you to test and give feedback on beta features, sometimes games, and different services. For several months now, the community of disabled gamers and able-bodied gamers wishing to help improve accessibility in video games has been able to give their opinion and discuss various options and functions that will then be deployed on consoles and PCs.
The Xbox Accessibility Insiders League (XAIL) was born and brings together more than 158,000 disabled gamers and community supporters. They give their opinion on the accessibility features offered, submit ideas for developers. They can also submit products and games for testing via the Microsoft Gaming Accessibility Testing Service (MGATS) in order to get feedback from the community.
” We all make games to play and want as many people as possible to experience the worlds you build. This can only happen if players can experience your game and are confident they can play it”explains Sarah Bonds, in charge of the experience of game creators and ecosystem at Xbox.
With 400 million players with disabilities, the subject is therefore taken very seriously on the Seattle side. And we know above all that everything initially goes through the game developers, who now have a bible to support them in the design (the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines). This is also enriched with new practices on mental health (subject covered in the game Psychonauts 2)work on the size of the text or even motion sickness.
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 on basic knowledge, community contacts and best practices. hardware or software practices too.
Easier to find the right game
For Microsoft, the most important part is also to let players enjoy the games. They still need to know which ones are made for them.
There is now a way to better identify games that may match their handicap. Last year, Xbox unveiled the addition of an Accessibility sheet with the integrated options, the features to expect from a game informed by the developers. About twenty of the most sought-after features are thus listed and displayed according to the titles that support them.
Now it is possible to sort the library of games (or those in the Xbox Store) to find the best matches thanks to accessibility feature tags (custom volume control, subtitles, etc.) and the menu of research.
To also raise awareness of everyone’s disabilities, Microsoft has announced the arrival in Minecraft: Educational Edition ofBuildAbility, an accessibility-themed world crafted with the barriers often encountered by players with disabilities in mind. More than intended for people with disabilities, this world wants to make able-bodied people aware of the difficulties and teach them to identify them, eliminate them within schools and communities.
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