Are Color Blind Gamers Left Out? [Science]

By Jason Fitzpatrick on April 20th, 2011

Color blindness affects a significant portion of the population (5% of men and %.5 of women); game developers are finally noticing and tweaking games so success doesn’t hinge on whether or not you can tell red from green.

The BBC shares and interesting article on the impact of color blindness and the enjoyment of video games. Roughly 1 in 20 men and 1 in 200 women are afflicted with some type of color blindness. Video games often rely very strongly on color schemes to distinguish between critical things in the game (friend from foe, good power up from bad, and so on) but these visual cues are muted or totally inaccessible to the color blind.

In the screenshot here, for example, we see a scene from Call of Duty: Black Ops with the colors adjusted to show how a person afflicted with red/green color blindness would see it. One of the characters on screen is an enemy and one is a friend, someone without color blindness would see a bright red name tag and a bright green name tag–without those cues you can’t tell them apart and will often shoot your teammates. Unlike most games, however, you can pause Call of Duty: Black Ops and in the player menu, switch to a more color blind-friendly scheme (bright blue and bright orange, which provide a much better contrast than red/green).

What’s interesting is that the concessions needed to accommodate color blind players are very minor, yet remain largely unadopted. As BBC technology writer David Lee notes in this video treatment of the topic, all it takes to make the koopa shells in Mario Kart color blind friendly isn’t a special color scheme but simply making the pattern on the shells different. Ticket to Ride, a popular railway building board game, uses the color/pattern combo–each unique color railway on the board also has a unique symbol on it so the board, even when viewed in completely black and white, is easily navigable.

Hit up the link below to read the full article and watch the video about color blindness and gaming. Have personal experience with color blindness and gaming (or computer/technology use in general)? Let’s hear about it in the comments.

Are Color Blind Gamers Left Out? [BBC]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/20/11
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