Mabinogi does a lot of things really well, from character development to actual game-play. It is a game of choices that allows for all types of gamers to come together to play in their own way.
But I wonder how a disabled gamer or a gamer with limited time (for a number of reasons) might fare in the world of Mabinogi?
Before I get started, be sure to check out http://www.ablegamers.com/ for game reviews, articles and networking for all types of gamers. I would like to say that even though I am not disabled, I find this conversation fascinating. Do games do enough for the disabled? Or is it a question that many of the developers never even think of?
Next time you are playing your favorite game, ask yourself how you might play if you had an issue that limited your play..how would you play it? But on to Mabinogi. Let's look at some of the features that I think should be looked for, and how Mabinogi might be used to tackle those issues:
1) Color Blind: I am not as familiar with this issue, but I know that some games (WAR) actually have setups possible for color-blind users. Mabinogi, as far as I know, has no "setting" for that, but I would like research this one more to find out how the game does with color blind players. Branching out from this could be sight-impaired players, from players with very poor eyesight to players with NO eye sight (yes, that is an actual subject I have seen come up in this discussion. Think about it..it's a legitimate question in many ways!)
2) Deaf/Hard of Hearing: We tend to forget how much of our gaming relies upon sound. There are many audio triggers that tell us that something is going to happen. While Mabinogi has these, the game really gives many visual cues as to when something might happen. When you are fighting a mob, for example, you can see the fighting position it will use in a thought bubble over it's head. You can counter that position with a move of your own, also shown in a thought bubble over your head. Also, it's good to see that all NPC interactions have text (voice acting would be nice, too) and can be navigated using a small book that indexes certain subjects to talk about. The cut scenes use sub-titles, too, and you can get a good idea of the lore from these missions/npc interactions/cut scenes.
3) Limited control issues: I looked at this from the viewpoint of someone that might only have the use of one hand, or of someone with chronic pain from anything from tennis elbow to arthritis. It is more common than you think, and if you play games for years like me (along with painting and drumming, which doesn't help) you will more than likely suffer from some kind of discomfort due to over-use of your wrists. There are many gamers that can only literally use one hand, or only a few digits on those hands. In any of these cases, the less mouse clicks and manipulations of the mouse, the better. Camera control is often an issue, and Mabinogi allows for the player to simply push the cursor to the edge of the screen to move the camera, or to zoom in and out. I love this feature and have grown so used to it that I wish other games had it.
Also, the game can be controlled entirely with one hand and very few clicks. I can right click on a monster, tell my pet to attack it and click on it again to attack it myself (or choose attack in the right click menu.) There are also options for auto-attack/manual attack, and shortcuts accessible from the keyboard or from clicking with the mouse. Everything is laid out in a classic Windows style menu, and is very easy to navigate.
Chatting is the only issue, and I wish that the pop-up keyboard (used to block a key-logger from getting your information) that you sign in with could be accessed in game, for chatting and sending messages. That would be brilliant. I am sure, however, that there are programs out there that allow players to do this already.
4) Limited time: When I say limited time, I am talking about players that might have chronic pain issues or issues that prevent them from playing for hours and hours like average gamers do. Luckily, Mabinogi moves as fast or as slow as you want it to. Also, being that it is Free to Play, there is none of the "urgency/deadlines" that many pay-to-play games have. You can also buy potions and items that will speed along the process of leveling or items that will at least make the time you can spend in game much more productive. It is ironic that many pay-to-play games (that already charge you per month, no matter how much or little you play) mostly don't feature cash-shops that will allow you to buy items that will allow you to gain more experience or to be more effective in many ways.
These are only some small points that I can think of, and I am always looking at games to see how a disabled player might play them. Think about it: how would someone play a game that required constant camera movement? How would a player chat if they had limited use of their hands?
I know that within my lifetime there will be actual "virtual reality" so that many of these issues will be forgotten. One day, we will look back at our limited access for all and laugh, thinking things like "You mean you actually displayed images on a screen, and not directly into your eyes? HAHA!" We are not there yet, so in the mean-time, games need to be aware of the millions of potential players that they could be cutting out of their game by not providing a few simple tools.
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