Why games need color blind modes - see SimCity with simulated color blindness


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My eyes don't have as many green receptors as normal eyes. The common color deficiency is called deuteranomaly, and it isn't really a handicap as long as I'm not trying to distinguish between subtle variations in green and yellow. When would I ever have to do that? Oh right, games! They're full of color coded data, and if they give me any trouble, then they give people with full color blindness lots of trouble.

There's a way for game developers to help. By implementing filters to Daltonize their color coding—make it readable by people with color blindness—they can make their games more accessible to a significant chunk of the population: about 6-10 percent of men and a small percentage of women. A lot of developers already do this—PopCap comes to mind as one which strives for accessibility—but not all of them. Maxis is another that has implemented color blindness filters, and the other day I stopped by the SimCity developer's office to chat about the decision with Creative Director Ocean Quigley.

Quigley says he decided to implement the feature after chance exercise: he made a color filter to show how SimCity's color blind lead QA tester sees the game, and when he saw how difficult the color coding was to read, he decided to do something about it. After some research, he created three filters to help compensate for color blindness.

To illustrate why these filters are so important, Quigley helped us capture the footage above, which shows how SimCity looks normally, how it looks with simulated color blindness, and what the filters do. Give it a watch!

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.