Color-Blind Options

Color-blind options are the most popular and in-demand feature for those with visual issues. Ideally all games should have colorblind options that can be enabled to compensate for a variety of color deficiency issues. The most prevalent of these disorders is the inability to tell the difference between the colors green and red. This is most often avoided by providing a way to change the color green to blue when indicating friendly information such as group mates or health bars. 

There are a wide variety of color deficiency disorders in the color-blind spectrum. Few people are monochromatic, and far less common forms of color-blindness besides red-green blindness include the inability to tell the difference between blue and yellow, and the ability to discern everything except blue.

Using color is not a bad thing at all, but to support color-blind players, a secondary indicator needs to be added when color is used to indicate an important status. For example, consider a game with a map that shows players which team has control of territory. The standard implementation of this would be to add a RED and GREEN overlay on the map to indicate status; this would be useless to most color-blind gamers. 

A much better way to handle the situation would be to include symbols on the map to indicate who owns each area with the normal color scheme. Perhaps a ‘Check Mark’ for those things your team has control of and an ‘X’ on those you don’t or fog of war mechanics. Any theme will do, just as long as it is visually distinctive. This can also be an option that can be turned on or off depending on gamer preference.

Popcap is largely considered the front-runner in color blind accessibility. It is becoming increasingly more commonplace to see colorblind options in casual games, but Popcap was using color-blind friendly options in titles such as Peggles long before it was nearly considered mandatory.

An example of a problem most can relate to is in Star Wars: The Old Republic. There, “Portals” that you can go in are GREEN, but those you cannot are RED. To the red/green colorblind gamer, these both look the same, and navigation is a mystery.

Examples

A woman purchases the sequel to her favorite casual puzzle game. When she gets the game home, she finds she can’t tell the difference between the red and green puzzle pieces defined by the color scheme of the game. If the options were available to change red or green to an alternate color, or set user-defined colors for both, then she would be able to enjoy the game.