The impact of the accessibility features included in Gears 5 were highlighted in a new feature from Microsoft recently, with Studio Head Rod Fergusson outlining the philosophy.
“We have a very hardcore franchise with a lot of fans with Gears tattoos,” says Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson. “How do you grow a franchise like that and welcome new players? How do you remove barriers and help them enjoy the experience? One of the ways was through inclusive design and the principle of ‘solve for one and expand to many.’”
In order to foster this spirit, Coalition hosted a design session in 2017 to bring in players with disabilities to understand some of the challenges they face when gaming. From this session, things like larger subtitle text for the hearing impaired came out.
One such example discussed was Chris Robinson who was born deaf. He actually has a channel on Twitch for advocating inclusivity. He also wears a tactile audio system to help him “feel” the action during games,
“I really love how they’re trying to ‘equalize’ the action with sound and visuals. If there’s something they want you to hear, you are aware and you can see and feel it.”
Another feature is Gears 5’s ability to be fully remappable to the Xbox Adaptive Controller which released earlier this year. It seems this inspired Rod Ferguson,
“Just as we looked at games that came before us and said we can do better, I want games that come after us to go, ‘What Gears 5 did is the baseline for what to do, and let’s see if we can do more. I hope people put more thought and attention and care into accessibility features because it allows people to enjoy their creations.”
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