Inaccessible Gaming Part 2: Mechanics

Last time I talked about how video games have an accessibility issue on the hardware level, sometimes even before any purchases have been made. However, that is only one of the issues surrounding video games not being accessible. This time I will discuss how video games’ systems and mechanics are inaccessible, especially for people just entering into the hobby. Unlike other media, the skill required to consume video games has increased as the medium has aged. While some of this ties into last week’s article — controllers gaining more buttons, touch pads, gyrometers, multiple joysticks — I’m mostly going to be looking at the increasing difficulty of navigating and interpolating the information and mechanics and how developers can address these concerns. Continue reading

Windows 10 Gaming is a Joke

Three weeks ago, Microsoft hosted a sale on their Windows Store promoting Windows 10. They had a slew of apps and games priced down to $.10. I wasn’t interested in much but they had Hydro Thunder Hurricane and ilomilo+, both of which were games I had been interested in but never owned an Xbox 360. As hesitant as I was to make a Microsoft account, make a Live account, and buy into another ecosystem I eventually took the plunge. After all, even if the whole thing was a bust I would only be out two dimes. I have since completed both games and have come away with some very mixed feelings about my experience. Continue reading

Inaccessible Gaming Part 1: Hardware

It seems there has always been talk about finding ways for gaming to break out of its own little box. We used to discuss about how to get gaming into the mainstream but I think those days are over. Some of our largest games are costing more to make, and earning more in a launch weekend, than summer blockbuster films. Television advertisements for video games can be seen running between ads for Suave and McDonald’s during commercial breaks on network channels. It is becoming more and more difficult to find someone who doesn’t play video games, even if it is the widely popular Candy Crush on a mobile phone. Yet, despite all of this breakthrough into pop culture, there is still a huge schism between the idea of “Video Games” and culture. What is it that film, music, and prose have accomplished that video games have not achieved yet? Accessibility. Continue reading

Has Google Lost Touch with the Tech World?

I really hate talking about Google twice in such a short period of time but it seems they are falling out of touch with their users and grossly misunderstanding the strengths and weaknesses of their own software. First was their atrocious Android Pay launch that, even currently, supports only a small pool of devices and requires those devices to be unrooted. Now Google has unveiled their new Pixel C Android tablet…that is also a laptop. Kind of. Continue reading

The Worst App Launch Ever?

Google has finally unveiled their redesigned NFC payment app today, aptly named Android Pay. As someone who has been using NFC payments since 2011 I was excited to see what Google had done to make Android Pay stand out against the competition, specifically Apple Pay. Instead I was greeted with one of the worst smartphone app launches that I can remember. For the people that can actually get the app installed and running, it seems it is an incomplete mess that was rushed to the Play Store. The majority of users, however, can’t even open the app to see what it looks like. The worst offense is that Android Pay replaces an app that featured the same functions and worked for most users. Continue reading

Nostalgia Has Tainted Our Views of Sonic

Booting up the game I mash the start button trying to skip the intros and get through the main menu so I can actually play the game. After what seems like an eternity I am greeted to a beautiful vista filled with dancing flowers and towering trees. A vast body of water rests next to the hills in the foreground as overgrown forests and a mesmerizing waterfall meet a deep blue sky off in the horizon. Despite the alluring scenery, my attention is drawn to a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog who is oozing “cool” through his pores as he taps his foot anxiously, waiting for my input.  I hold right on the d-pad and the strange animal begins a jog that quickly turns into an all out sprint as his feet become a circular blur. The next minute is spent jumping through enemies and over spikes, hitting springs for maximum speed, and zooming through loop de loops. Arriving at the end of the level, Sonic flies past a sign fast enough to make it spin in place until it rests on a candid photo of himself giving a peace sign. As with most people who played Sonic in the early 90’s, these are the memories that are tied to those games. Well I’m here to tell you those memories are wrong. Continue reading

An Exercise in Inclusivity: Defenders of Townsville

Usually tie-in games based on franchises aimed at children fail…horribly. These games are usually filled with poor platforming physics, repetitive combat, and boring puzzles — if you can even call them that. Needless to say, my expectations going into radiangames’ Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville were pretty low, and I was blown away. Instead of a poorly conceived platformer I found a Metroidvania styled shmup with depth. But I’m not going to rave about how good the game is. If that genre mix sounds like peanut butter and chocolate then you should play it. Instead, Defenders of Townsville is filled with design choices that developers should take note on as many are based around accessibility and making the game enjoyable for as many people possible. Continue reading