Games reveal the contrasting colors of accessibility

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Anton - Awesome article. I am Red/Green color blind and i’ve always wondered what I”m missing when I game. Thank you for this article.


There are ways of testing whether your game is compatible with color blindness etc. More devs should use them!


Earlier this week I put a mode in our game to simulate the two most common forms of colour blindness - Protanopia and Deuteranopia. Someone on the team had just noticed that we were using green and red to differentiate the good / bad parts of a dial, and we were changing the colours to be more colourblind friendly, so I figured it might be a good idea to be able to try out the whole game with simulated colour blindness, just to check there’s nothing else we were missing.

As it turns out if you use the popular Unity games engine, there’s a free bit of code on the asset store that makes that kind of thing really easy:!/content/19039

I had the thing integrated into our game in less than 30 minutes.


Best article ever.

My husband is very colorblind. It started with the original HalfLife game and just keeps on being a problem. He had the same problem in all the example games from the article.

He didn’t know uncharted had that issue until his LP commenters noticed he couldn’t see it.

Alien Isolation is kicking his ass right now because interaction is denoted in game with green lot buttons. For him they are no different from the billion other lights. He has to painstakingly run along every edge to find things he can interact with.

I wish more games took this into account.


Thought. The displays have red/green/blue inputs (whether the analog signals on the VGA connector or the digital LVDS differential lanes that go to the display controller).

Buttons can be added to selectively disable one or two of the colors, yielding a monochrome image on the screen of just the one or two color components.

May be handy in such situations.


It shouldn’t be too hard to just put a submenu under options that lets you set all of the important colors to whatever you want.


Interesting article.

I teach an introductory statistics course. Colour is a great way to show interesting features on statistical graphics, but you need to always be mindful of the fact that not all people can access the information that way. I once had a colleague who did a focus group with teachers on a new format for score reporting from educational tests. One of the comments she reported really stuck with me. The teacher said something like, “This is really nice, but the Principal will get the colour version and we will get a B & W copy of the cheap office printer.”

I try to teach my students to always pair one other visual attribute with colour (e.g., your patterns). I also teach them to make sure that colours vary by saturation and value on an HSV scale, and not just hue.

Design for dynamic displays is harder, but the same ideas should apply. And although your form of colour-blindness is rare, Red/Green colour-blindness is fairly common.


A good argument against using R/G two-color LEDs as status indicators. Takes a while to convince colleagues who want to talk into the way I do my designs, though - no, that everybody else does it this way is NOT a reason to do it too.


Yes, there is so much terrible UI design out there, for all sorts of products - it almost seems like the standard, sometimes. But I guess for many, jumping on a trend bandwagon is more important - both designers and consumers.

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Sometimes it makes you feel like the only sane one in the sea of trend-followers… with the nagging feeling that you can be wrong anyway.

Even as a person with normal color vision, I would have appreciated extra help in Eagle Vision, since there are points in the game where it requires you, the player, to also have eagle vision. The color distinctions are not obvious in many situations, especially when the target is distant or there is a lot going on in the environment. An overhead marker would have helped, like crossed swords for a potential enemy and a stabby dagger for targets.


it’s as much a matter of making developers give a fig as it is about coding.

Many years ago, I wanted to play a game…we’ll call it “X” to conceal it. I knew the developer slightly and I wrote him to suggest he consider the fact that certain parts of the game could only be solved by someone with full color perception and good eyesight as you has to spot and note a slight glint of color change in a bird’s eye at one point). The response was a semi-polite variant of 'Too bad, so sad. Don’t care, so there."


Of course I agree that developers should provide accessibility options, but when they don’t there’s something you can do about it. Here are two suggestions which should be fast enough for puzzle games.

  1. Buy a set of filters. When you put the red filter in front of the screen, it makes blue and green look black. Or the cyan filter just makes red look black. Whatever.

  2. Make three display settings which screw with the RGB balance on your computer screen. Keep the display settings open in a separate window. By switching between the settings, you’ll change the darkness of the three primary colors.

Hope this helps.


I want to make a little puzzle game that can be played by people with color issues to see which RGB color combinations maximize their usable vision. People play for a while and then it compiles their performance data into a set of recommendations for UI design.


What about those red-cyan or green-magenta 3d anaglyph glasses? Getting different color data from each eye could help with the recognition of different colors.

1 in 33,000 lost sales will have zero impact on the commercial aspect of these games. Its the people who care about the art, those are the ones who want as many to enjoy it as possible.


It’s not 1 in 33,000. That’s just the extremely rare sub-type that the author has. Colourblindness in general affects 8% of males… big numbers. That’s why so many developers now do indeed take it into account… everything from Battlefield to Candy Crush Soda. Sometimes through using something else in addition to colour, which is great, sometimes by tweaking the pallette, which is great for the common types, but unfortunately not for achromatopsia.


I echo the above - the world needs more articles focusing on improving accessibility, in games and elsewhere. Thanks Anton & Boing.


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