Macroability

Games who find it difficult to use the keyboard, perform actions quickly, or press multiple buttons simultaneously will look to macros to help level the playing field against those with better dexterity and speed. The ability to create macros used to be common in many PC games, but the ability to macro anything in some games led to the rise of “bots,” which in turn led to many companies scaling back or even eliminating macros, to the detriment of the disabled player.

Why are macros so important? Players with issues like Muscular Dystrophy or the loss of a limb use in-game macros to simultaneously press multiple buttons or button sequences with a single button. This is even more important for those with low strength and stamina; the ability to macro often-used commands lessens the burden of pressing multiple buttons, and therefore extends game playability.

Another use for macros is to provide the ability to store saved text to be used as conversation. For some with slow motor skills, taking in guild chat, looking for a group, or even responding to simple ‘tells’ can become a painful nightmare. People think they are rude when the only reason they do not engage is the time it takes for the gamer to type out a command. Macros allow that gamer to create a library of text so that he can communicate and enjoy the social aspects of gaming.

As noted above, some companies regard macroing as cheating regardless if it is in game. Star Wars: The Old Republic is an example of a game that disabled macros after the community complained about people being able to use them in player versus player combat. Disabling macros has not dampened the ability of elite PVPers, but it has definitely limited the ability of those who need to press multiple buttons in quick succession in order to compete at a higher level.

The now defunct Star Wars Galaxies allowed for abilities to be queued one after the other in a macro, which reduced 4-6 button presses down to only one. Dark Age of Camelot from Mythic Entertainment has the ability to macro text, which can enable someone who uses an on-screen keyboard to hold entire conversation with single button presses.

Examples

A child with Cerebral Palsy who loves playing her favorite wizard MMO with her brother and father. She uses an on-screen keyboard to play, which makes using the hotbar buttons a repetitive task. The ability to combine a common key sequence – TAB to target the nearest enemy, and A to start attacking -- into one button would decrease the stress in her shoulder, leading to less fatigue. Even the ability to queue abilities one after the other would lead to a better gaming experience for the young lady, more bonding time with her family, and an enhanced feeling of normalcy.