Color blindness in gaming

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Freboy

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#1 Freboy
Member since 2004 • 28 Posts

Hello

I did a quick search on the forum, but it seems very few people are discussing this: Color blindness in gaming. As you may know, 7-10% of the male population (which includes most gamers) is red-green color blind. Still, many top-selling games rely on red and green color code to the extent that they are more or less unplayable to the color blind. I am not color blind myself, but a close friend of mine is, and here are some particularly frustrating games we have come across:

- Resident Evil 5: Unlike many shooters, you don't always aim at the middle of the screen; instead you rely on a RED laser sight.

- Killzone: Enemies are distinguished by their glowing RED eyes.

- Crysis 2: You can keep track of enemies by tagging them. But they appear on your screen as dark GREEN triangles in environments that are often gray/green. What is even stranger, you can tag other items that are far less important, such as ammo crates, but they appear in a much brighter green.

- Vanquish: The most common enemies are RED, and your buddies wear camo GREEN.

What amazes me is that these issues appear SO easy to solve.

How hard can it be to introduce a color blindness mode that turns the laser sight in Resident Evil blue? The HUD elements in Crysis 2 aren?t even rendered in 3D and do not interact with the environment in terms of light and shadows; it can't take much effort to make a color blind mode that makes them orange? But even after Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was patched for the benefit of the color blind, developers still seem completely oblivious.

I'm under the impression that this is a question of awareness. After all, we are talking about a very small extra effort for game developers to reach a substantial number of gamers that currently resent them. Of course, it's not only game developers that overlook this issue. For example, Gamespot could exercise a lot of pressure by pointing out games that rely on red-green color codes, like they do when a game is offensive or confusing. But most importantly, I suppose it's up to us gamers to raise awareness of this. I would encourage everyone to point out games that rely on red-green colors, for example if you follow On the Spot live.

I think that once this issue has been raised, all developers will want to include a color blindness mode to reach that last demographic. It's just a matter of a small push to put it on the map.

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Yusuke420

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#2 Yusuke420
Member since 2012 • 2770 Posts

This is a very interesting topic and worthy of discussion. It seems to me that it would be very easy to include these options, but there's not a whole lot of advocates for color blind people.

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El_Zo1212o

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#3 El_Zo1212o
Member since 2009 • 6057 Posts

Hello

I did a quick search on the forum, but it seems very few people are discussing this: Color blindness in gaming. As you may know, 7-10% of the male population (which includes most gamers) is red-green color blind. Still, many top-selling games rely on red and green color code to the extent that they are more or less unplayable to the color blind. I am not color blind myself, but a close friend of mine is, and here are some particularly frustrating games we have come across:

- Resident Evil 5: Unlike many shooters, you don't always aim at the middle of the screen; instead you rely on a RED laser sight.

- Killzone: Enemies are distinguished by their glowing RED eyes.

- Crysis 2: You can keep track of enemies by tagging them. But they appear on your screen as dark GREEN triangles in environments that are often gray/green. What is even stranger, you can tag other items that are far less important, such as ammo crates, but they appear in a much brighter green.

- Vanquish: The most common enemies are RED, and your buddies wear camo GREEN.

What amazes me is that these issues appear SO easy to solve.

How hard can it be to introduce a color blindness mode that turns the laser sight in Resident Evil blue? The HUD elements in Crysis 2 aren?t even rendered in 3D and do not interact with the environment in terms of light and shadows; it can't take much effort to make a color blind mode that makes them orange? But even after Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was patched for the benefit of the color blind, developers still seem completely oblivious.

I'm under the impression that this is a question of awareness. After all, we are talking about a very small extra effort for game developers to reach a substantial number of gamers that currently resent them. Of course, it's not only game developers that overlook this issue. For example, Gamespot could exercise a lot of pressure by pointing out games that rely on red-green color codes, like they do when a game is offensive or confusing. But most importantly, I suppose it's up to us gamers to raise awareness of this. I would encourage everyone to point out games that rely on red-green colors, for example if you follow On the Spot live.

I think that once this issue has been raised, all developers will want to include a color blindness mode to reach that last demographic. It's just a matter of a small push to put it on the map.

Freboy
Are you color blind?
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Jackc8

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#4 Jackc8
Member since 2007 • 8515 Posts

I didn't realize the number of color blind people was so high - maybe the developers don't either? I wouldn't think it would take much work to include the option to change the color of certain things like you're talking about.

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DJ_Lae

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#5 DJ_Lae
Member since 2002 • 42748 Posts
I've complained about various aspects of games over the years that don't handle colour well. And there are a surprising number of them - I cannot believe that games can get developed, run through QA and testing and not have people mention they have issues distinguishing certain things. Puzzle games are bad, especially the old ones. For example, I'll never get the platinum for the Sega Genesis collection because the Mean Bean Machine trophy is essentially impossible for me - the game in late stages moves so fast that the tiny shapes they use to mark each colour are useless, and green and yellow beans in that game look exactly the same to me. Hexic is another. Hilariously, they actually had a colourblind mode that added shapes, and it helped until a bomb dropped - with a timer on its face instead of the shape, again I couldn't tell the difference between yellow or green and if I guessed wrong while moving the bomb into a match, I'd be screwed out of a high score. Gave up on the game as a result. Team colours are bad too, especially when you mix greens and browns. Some games do it well - Perfect Dark Zero had its own set of problems but they offered three or four options to change team colours, including making the green and red more vibrant or changing them to completely different sets of colours like blue and white. Age of Empires Online has a similar colourblind mode that will lock in team colours. Though to be honest, while it's occasionally annoying I find that in most games it never becomes a huge issue (puzzle games mostly) and I get the weird side benefit of being able to distinguish motion better than non-colourblind gamers. For example, I'm convinced that Space Giraffe was designed specifically for the colourblind, as the mess of colour and movement is basically incomprehensible to anyone else. And you also hear occasionally from more prominent personalities on gaming sites like Jeff Gerstmann or Vinny Caravella, who are both colourblind and will bring up issues during podcasts once in a while.
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Teuf_

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#6 Teuf_
Member since 2004 • 30805 Posts

For developers to do it, it has to be something that's assumed to be "worth it" from a development POV. Pretty much every feature in a game is going to be judged in terms of how much time it takes to implement, how much in-game resources it will consume (memory, disc space, GPU clock cycles, etc.), and how much time it will add to testing and regression cycles. Nothing is ever free, and even something simple like having an option to change some colors will consume resources that could otherwise go to another feature. So I think if you want to convince developers to get on-board, you'd have to demonstrate that color-blindess issues can significantly affect the enjoyability of a game for a large number of people, and that those people would be more willing to buy a game that catered to their needs.

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JordanElek

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#7 JordanElek
Member since 2002 • 18563 Posts

I've complained about various aspects of games over the years that don't handle colour well. And there are a surprising number of them - I cannot believe that games can get developed, run through QA and testing and not have people mention they have issues distinguishing certain things.DJ_Lae
I know... it seems crazy. But then think of all the times you've admitted to being colorblind to someone and been immediately asked what color shirt they're wearing and what color is this piece of paper and what color is grass and how do you know when to stop at a stoplight????

To people who aren't colorblind, it's a totally foreign idea. I've talked to countless older people who are genuinely ignorant about the whole concept. To me, it's the equivalent of meeting a left-handed person and wondering how they can use a pen. But I guess game developers often neglect left-handed people as well.

The most recent game I've had trouble with is Xenoblade. The special attacks are color-coded, and if you do a chain attack with three attacks of the same color in a row, you have a chance to continue the chain. I didn't even know that there were blue and purple attacks until I did what I thought was three blue ones and my chain was broken by the last one, which was apparently a dark shade of purple that looks almost identical to the dark shade of blue. I think there's also light green and yellow attacks that look the same... It's frustrating.

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JordanElek

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#8 JordanElek
Member since 2002 • 18563 Posts

For developers to do it, it has to be something that's assumed to be "worth it" from a development POV. Pretty much every feature in a game is going to be judged in terms of how much time it takes to implement, how much in-game resources it will consume (memory, disc space, GPU clock cycles, etc.), and how much time it will add to testing and regression cycles. Nothing is ever free, and even something simple like having an option to change some colors will consume resources that could otherwise go to another feature. So I think if you want to convince developers to get on-board, you'd have to demonstrate that color-blindess issues can significantly affect the enjoyability of a game for a large number of people, and that those people would be more willing to buy a game that catered to their needs.

Teufelhuhn

A simpler option is just to have some kind of indication other than the color. Some puzzle games use shapes as well as colors, even ones that exclusively use circles have an option to put another shape on top of the circle to correspond with the colors (like a plus sign and minus sign, etc.).

Even in something like Xenoblade like I mentioned above, a simple letter in the corner of the attack icon or differently shaped icons for the different colors would totally fix the problem. There doesn't need to be any adjustable options at all in a lot of cases.... just don't make color-coding the ONLY means of distinguishing between things. If colorblindness is considered during the design process, then it doesn't need to take up any extra resources at all.

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#9 Krelian-co
Member since 2006 • 13274 Posts

not to sound like an ass but there are many impairments, it is not developers obligation to take them into account, although i do agree that color blindness should be an easy one to fix

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turtlethetaffer

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#10 turtlethetaffer
Member since 2009 • 18795 Posts

That's a pretty interesting argument... what about people who are monochromatic color blind? I think a setting for color blind people wouldn't be too tough.

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#11 mario-galaxys
Member since 2011 • 574 Posts
If color blindness is a concern in gaming, then what about hearing or visual impairment? What about physical disabilities? These disabilities are more serious than color blindness. Since gaming is a privilege and not a right, I do not see people with disabilities suing game companies to have game features that will accommodate them.
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#12 Black_Knight_00
Member since 2007 • 21631 Posts
I know some color blind people and one of them is a professional RE5 player. The way I understand it, color blindness doesn't mean you don't see the colors green or red, it means you can't tell the difference between them.
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Teuf_

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#13 Teuf_
Member since 2004 • 30805 Posts

[QUOTE="Teufelhuhn"]

For developers to do it, it has to be something that's assumed to be "worth it" from a development POV. Pretty much every feature in a game is going to be judged in terms of how much time it takes to implement, how much in-game resources it will consume (memory, disc space, GPU clock cycles, etc.), and how much time it will add to testing and regression cycles. Nothing is ever free, and even something simple like having an option to change some colors will consume resources that could otherwise go to another feature. So I think if you want to convince developers to get on-board, you'd have to demonstrate that color-blindess issues can significantly affect the enjoyability of a game for a large number of people, and that those people would be more willing to buy a game that catered to their needs.

JordanElek

A simpler option is just to have some kind of indication other than the color. Some puzzle games use shapes as well as colors, even ones that exclusively use circles have an option to put another shape on top of the circle to correspond with the colors (like a plus sign and minus sign, etc.).

Even in something like Xenoblade like I mentioned above, a simple letter in the corner of the attack icon or differently shaped icons for the different colors would totally fix the problem. There doesn't need to be any adjustable options at all in a lot of cases.... just don't make color-coding the ONLY means of distinguishing between things. If colorblindness is considered during the design process, then it doesn't need to take up any extra resources at all.



Interesting...if it's possible to avoid a lot of issues by way of design, then it definitely seems like the best way to start tackling the problem. I'll have to bring this up with my director and see what he thinks.

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Spinnerweb

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#14 Spinnerweb
Member since 2009 • 2995 Posts
Resident Evil: Revelations seems to have taken this into account. You can change laser sight colors between Red, Green, Blue and White. Other than that, SNK said in the interview of Metal Slug: Anthology they made bullets in Metal Slug coloured brightly and some of them glowing to make them easier to see, otherwise they would be difficult to see and evade.