Working closely with the blind and visually impaired community, the developers of The Vale have designed a game that raises the bar when it comes to accessibility.
The campaign for greater accessibility in video games has made incredible strides in recent years, but a Canadian independent developer is hoping their game will be the next step in advancing the cause. Developer Falling Squirrel Inc. showed up The Valley: Shadow of the Crown during the recent Xbox Independent Showcase, demonstrating some of the design choices made to create a game with players who are blind and visually impaired in mind.
the valley places players in a fantastic world of magic, swords and shields. They play as Alex, a girl born blind and facing the challenge of an adventure on dangerous paths. The game is played in first person, using audio to represent Alex’s disability. This is a new concept for a video game, and one that Falling Squirrel has clearly worked tirelessly on to achieve in an engaging and engaging way.
From the start, the developer has worked with consultants with the help of the INCA Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to helping Canadians living with blindness and low vision. The CNIB participated through the valleythe development process of, helping the game to test and helping the studio develop its vision taking into account the comments and concerns of blind players. It’s a great approach, one that more studios should practice.
Representation was clearly an important part of the game’s development across the board. Not only is the valleyThe protagonist is blind, but many of the voice actors bringing the characters in the action-adventure game to life are also blind or visually impaired, Falling Squirrel many accommodations needed for the performers to receive scripts and record lines. This will bring a refreshing and important level of authenticity to the game.
Beyond being a big step towards a better representation of people with disabilities in video games, the valley is also an incredibly unique concept. The game focuses on using audio to reproduce the experience of blindness, using technological advancements to create an immersive experience. Gamers are encouraged to use headphones while playing, and Falling Squirrel used virtual reality headset technology to deliver appropriate binaural sound and create a 3D soundscape. This allows players to orient themselves in the game world, with sounds in each ear helping them navigate their way through exploration and combat.
Falling Squirrel’s commitment to accurately portray the blind and visually impaired community through character design and gameplay mechanics is an exciting milestone for the industry. Although modes and accessibility options have improved in recent years, the valley represents something special – a game made with accessibility and representation in mind. This bold idea is something more studios should emulate, proving that the future of gaming is not just about cutting-edge graphics, but rather a variety of exciting experiences that appeal to all gamers.
Developed and published by Falling Squirrel, The Vale: Shadow of the Crown will be released on August 19 for Xbox One and PC.
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