Just a couple of days a go an EVE Online user (Gen. Orion) approached me on twitter and told me the following:
“Not sure if you would be interested, but I would appreciate it if you would support an effort to make EVE Online accessible to the blind? If not an article, a tweet would be appreciated. I believe it’s a viable task for CCP to accomplish relatively easily and was originally spurred for my blind wife @Singing_Kitty and her visually impaired friends as well as others in the community.” – Gen. Orion
And I didn´t even have to think about it, since I love to help people out when ever I can. So as soon as I had finished my Christmas dinner with my family, I took a look at Gen´s request for me (us). And good thing that, since I found out that Gen is far from alone in wanting more disability friendly video games.
Anyhow, as I was saying. Gen. Orion would love to see CCP adding some kind of screen reader support (such as NVDA and voiceover) for their sci-fi Mmorpg EVE Online. So that his wife (her friends and other blind Gamers) would be able to enjoy EVE just like everybody else. I´m all for that of course, sadly enough though. I´m not quite sure how keen CCP is to add such a feature to EVE. However, not so long ago I read about SmartSpecs (developed by Oxford scientists), Intel´s real-world assistive technology (which is based on Intel RealSense cameras and wearable sensors), and texts such as “Virtual Reality Technology for Blind and Visual Impaired People: Reviews and Recent Advances” and “Applications of Virtual Reality for Visually Impaired People“. And when I heard Orion´s story about his blind wife and her wish to be able to play EVE Online. I just thought for myself “perhaps there is a way for CCP to add a VR or screen reader support to EVE after all?“.
Then I saw a really interesting comment by Gisander (who´s a moderator at game-accessibility.com) on EVE´s forum:
“I am a moderator at www.game-accessibility.com and a long time Eve player. I have frequently said that a lot of parts of EvE:online could certainly be played by blind gamers if screenreaders could reach the information needed. There will be parts of the game that would still be practically undo-able even with proper screenreader support; but one of the beauties of EvE is that is has so many different “professions” to pick from that are intermingled trough the shared universe, and the fact that a player doesn’t take up a “raid or party slot” and drag the entire group average down.
Even if the blind gamer would not be able to play at the top most level (and you would be surprised about what they can accomplish! I have seen blind gamers kicking ass like no other!) they would still be able to help at their own level. And most blind gamers I know would love to be able to simply help their friends out in EvE. I highly recommend giving this some serious thought. Headlines like “EvE:online now accessible to be played by the blind” would make a lot of blind gamers rush to try it and would be cool headlines in any case.” – Gisander, game-accessibility
And I think that Gisander made some really good points by his/her comment, like the fact that many blind Gamer´s would probably love to get a chance to play EVE together with people from all around the world. Even so, CCP still needs to take a look at the technical aspects of VR and screen reader support for EVE. As I´m not quite sure if it´s something that would cost a lot of money (and work hours) to implement into the game. In my opinion, though, I think that CCP would gain a lot in the long run by doing so. As there are quite a lot of blinder Gamers out there (maybe they could become a new consumer group for CCP and EVE?).
Not only that, “if” CCP decides to implement screen reader (and maybe VR) support to EVE, and “if” it becomes a big hit. Then “maybe” other developers will follow their lead as well. In other words, CCP could become a trend-setter in the games industry within that field. And who knows? If everything works out really great, then there might even be a major technology boost for blind people also (technology which could make their Gaming and everyday life better). Time will tell I guess, still, I truly hope that more Gamer´s with disabilities will have a chance to enjoy games just like everyone else in the near future.
With that said, what do you guys think about all of this? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
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