In recent years accessibility in gaming has seen a large amount of attention from developers, the media, and gamers alike. Because of this, more games than ever before now offer features that give people with disabilities and who face other challenges the ability to play games.
But one type of challenge that is rarely mentioned when discussing game accessibility is learning disabilities, which include a broad spectrum of different challenges to the player. For me, these types of disabilities hit close to home. From the ages of 4-12, I struggled with a speech impediment and had issues learning to read. Fortunately, I can say that I have overcome these challenges in my life, but millions of gamers have not.
It’s a common belief by many that illiteracy is a thing of the past. But that’s unfortunately not true. Below are some statistics from the US Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy:
- 32 million adults can not read in the United States (that’s equal to 14% of the population.)
- 21% of US adults read below the 5th-grade level.
- 19% of high school graduates can not read.
Illiteracy and learning are challenges that several gamers face worldwide, and for the personal reasons mentioned above, it is something I care deeply about.
New Accessibility Features
Goldenrod Games recently released our first game, Back 2 School, an educational quiz game where the player answers challenging primary school questions to see if they are smart enough to pass elementary school. We launched with a handful of accessibility options, but unfortunately, not enough. I am so excited to announce that in our 1.4 update we are adding a text-to-speech narrator. This new feature will read all quiz questions and answers to the player once toggled on through the settings menu. This update will be available for both the Steam and Xbox versions of the game by the time you’re reading this post.
Our Promise to You
Our studio feels adding this feature will go a long way towards giving gamers who face learning disabilities and have literacy disadvantages the ability to play Back 2 School. However, our mission for accessibility is not over. It is our goal that no player will be left behind. So our studio will continue to monitor the needs of our players and provide updates to meet those needs in the coming months. That is our promise to you!
Lastly, learning disabilities are a challenge that affects more than how and if we can play a game. To provide additional support, funding, and research that will provide real-world benefits to children, teens, and adults with learning disabilities, Goldenrod Games will be donating 10% of all Back 2 School profits to the National Center for Learning Disabilities.