How can you play games if you have a visual impairment?

For many people, there is no better way to relax after a busy day than with a couple of hours immersed in their favourite game. With the video game industry now worth over £7 billion, there is no doubt that games are big business, but are they considering the needs of those with a visual impairment?

We’ve had a look at the accessible games out there to share just some of the different video games that visually impaired and blind people can play.

iOS/Phone Gaming

There have been many advancements in technology over the last 10 years that have made life a whole lot easier for those who are blind or live with a visual impairment, none more so than touch screen technology. The combination of touch screen technology and screen readers really has opened up the world of gaming for those with a visual impairment. Many developers are now taking note of this new technology with a number of games such as Papa Sangre and Zany Touch being developed which are fully accessible to all though the use of voice commands.

Close up of one white iPhone and one white iPad screens.

Text only Games

Where images aren’t an option, one of the best alternatives for blind gamers is the wide variety of text only games which, alongside screen reading technology allows players to navigate their way through the story without the use of sight. Text based games such as the Zork series are regarded as cult classics and have a sizeable fan base; the fact that titles such as this can be played without the need for images means that they can be enjoyed by both sighted and non-sighted players alike!

Zork

Audio focussed games

Over the last few years one big advancement for visually impaired gamers is the emergence of audio focused games. Titles such as GMA Tank Commander and Shades of Doom promote gameplay that is largely focused on what players can hear rather than see opens up a whole new batch of gamers who struggle to play traditional games. Developers such as Incus Games are spearheading this new genre of titles by pushing the boundaries of how we play games, let’s hope there are many more audio focused games to come!

Gaming Headset

Accessibility features on mainstream games

While there are games specifically designed with those with a visual impairment in mind, there are also a handful of mainstream games that contain features to make them accessible. Titles such as Minecraft contain a magnification tool to enlarge icons and displays allowing visually impaired gamers to clearly see all elements on screen. Super Mario 64 is also well known for its accessibility for visually impaired people due to its array of audio/musical prompts which tell players once a task has been completed.

Accessibility features on games consoles

Finally, there are a number of features on games consoles that can be enabled to all games to make them more accessible. Microsoft in particular has a strong track record in including accessibility features within their consoles, with the Xbox One boasting features such as a Magnifier and the impressive ‘Narrator’ which allows users to play their Xbox without a display with a screen reader audibly describing what is happening on the screen.

Xbox One Accessability

Having a visual impairment doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy video games and the wide array of technology out there.

Here at Henshaws, we hold our Tech Talk groups once a month in our Manchester, Oldham and Liverpool hubs. If you are unsure about the technology that is out there or if you would simply like to find out how tech can help you, come along to a group and talk to one of our tech experts!

Log in or register to download

Explore our other technology blogs

We can't do it without you

Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

Donate now

Alex
Alex is the Marketing and Fundraising Officer and is responsible for delivering marketing support to each area of fundraising activity.