Friday, October 30, 2020

Accessibility in Plants vs Zombies has Room to Grow

 When I first saw all of the accessibility features in Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, I was thrilled. There was speech-to-text! Few games have this feature for Deaf/HoH players.

Image: The accessibility menu reads: Narrate Path, Color Blind Mode, Voice Chat,
Convert Voice Chat to Text Chat, Enable Text to Speech, and Brightness.
 I wanted to rush out and tell all of you about this. Though more games are incorporating it, I've only recently seen it on this game and Wasteland 3. But, before I got too excited, I thought I would give it a try.

Image: A space sunflower stands by a fence looking at jack-o-lanterns at night. In the top left of the screen, it reads "testing food feature for you".
My husband tried about five sentences in the game at varying speeds of speech. None of the things he said picked up 100%. In fact, some sentences were so mangled, I couldn't even parse what he meant.

While aiming for inclusion is what every game developer should be doing, they are doing a disservice to the disabled community with their half-assed attempts. Features mean nothing if they do not work as they should. Maybe they should spend a little more time working on the quality of their games and a little less time on that sweet, money-grabbing DLC.

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