Ever since it released the , Microsoft has placed a greater emphasis on making its games more accessible to those with disabilities and impairments. Now, the company is taking perhaps its most significant step yet towards ensuring that almost anyone can play and enjoy the games that come out on PC and Xbox. It has that will allow studios to send in their creations for testing against its (more on those in a moment). The company claims the initiative is the first of its kind for the gaming industry.
As part of its testing process, Microsoft will work to help a developer understand how a part of their game could be challenging to someone with a disability. What’s more, Microsoft says “every test pass” will include input from individuals from the gaming and disability community, who will not only play the games but provide feedback and insight as well. The company will also provide developers with additional resources, including links to documentation on inclusive design, as needed.
Microsoft is also updating its Xbox Accessibility Guidelines, which will help guide the testing program. One of the ways the company improved the resource was by making it easier to read and understand. Microsoft said it tried to remove overly technical terms and add context where needed. Moreover, each guideline includes additional information on how certain features and practices can impact those with disabilities. There are also high-level questions studios can use to help direct their efforts.
Both the accessibility testing and new guidelines came out feedback the company has collected since it first published the latter in 2020. Microsoft notes developers consistently told it they wanted more guidance on where to start and how to focus their efforts. “It’s important for us to ensure we are constantly improving and raising the bar for inclusive gaming,” the company said. “This is just a single point in that journey.”