This year's Access-Ability showcase featured exciting innovations like a blindness-friendly city builder

Access-Ability Summer Showcase 2024 - YouTube Access-Ability Summer Showcase 2024 - YouTube
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On Friday, the second-annual Access-Ability Summer Showcase, an event by and for gamers with disabilities, highlighted just how far the gaming accessibility discussion has come in what feels like a pretty short time. As I remember it, serious public conversations around accessibility only really started after Dark Souls came into vogue—coincidentally, one of the first times I played a game and realized there was something very very wrong with my hand. 

In the same ilk as Dark Souls is the far less grim dark Slime Heroes, a bouncy, top-down action platformer which appeared at the Access-Ability Summer Showcase and centers around collecting and combining elemental gems. The accessibility options on offer here come in the form of visible hitboxes, scaling damage, and increased stamina, all of which are unique ways of mitigating the multi-pronged difficulty endemic to Souls-like genre. While Slime Heroes isn't my exact speed, these are settings I'd love to see integrated into something like the monstrously difficult game Nioh 2. 

In the same realm of motor accessibility is Space Boat, a third person adventure game set on that cruise ship from the ending of The Fifth Element where you play as a cat detective and don terrible costumes to try and solve a crime before it happens. I was impressed at how Space Boat has been developed from the ground up to be playable with one hand, a feature I often have to arduously engineer myself using macro bindings. 

There were innovations in accessibility that went beyond just scaling difficulty or control options, too—Cellular City, a tile-based puzzle game about dealing with neighborhood building codes, features in-depth text-to-speech support, robust enough that it can be enjoyed by those without sight. Similarly, Weko: The Mask Gatherer is another Souls-like with a slew of visual accommodations to aid those on the blindness spectrum. Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan is a dyslexia-friendly turn-based RPG.

Innovations in accessibility like the ones showcased at this round of the Access-Ability Showcase excite me, because it's an assurance that devs are making tools to keep people with degenerative conditions like myself in the fight for the long haul. 

(Image credit: Callum Deery)

In related news, Microsoft recently made some accessibility-related announcements, including the opening of preorders for the expensive but interesting looking Proteus controller from Byowave.

Nova Smith
Contributing Writer

Nova Smith is a freelance writer based out of Alberta, Canada. Nova's grab bag of non-gaming interests and passions includes Japanese mecha anime, miniature painting, as well as history, literature, and classical music. Nova also moonlights as a bureaucrat and amateur historian.