Creative Chronicles: Designing for Colour-Blindness

Creative Chronicles: Designing for Colour-Blindness

17 January 2020

Solving an invisible problem: Colour-blindess in games

People with colour-blindness have difficulty distinguishing some colors from each other; purple might look like blue, brown might look like green, and red might look like black. These are just a few examples.

Gamers with colour-blindness experience a variety of problems in video games. Information presented through color can be unreadable or completely invisible, friendly players can look like enemies, and game elements can become camouflaged against each other. This can lead to frustrating gameplay experiences, and some games can be rendered entirely unplayable.

There are several practices that you can employ to ensure your game is easily playable by colour-blind players, without having to become an expert on the condition.

  • Understand where you are using colour as information in your game. This could be character colours, UI, puzzle elements, lights, items or even text.
  • Use colour-blind preview tools/simulators to better understand how colour-blind players will experience your game
  • Don’t just use colour for presenting information. Consider using sound, shapes and animations to support the information.
  • If you cannot avoid using text colours for information, ensure there is another visual element present to inform the player, such as an icon, image or border. Don’t be tempted to make the text itself more visually complex, as this can make it harder to read for players with dyslexia, or reduced vision.
  • If you cannot avoid using colour to distinguish information, then consider developing a colour-blind mode for your players to use. The best colour-blind modes allow the player to choose the colours of the most important element. For example if your game is a team-based game, let the player set the colours for “my team” and “opposing team”.
  • Giving the player control over colours doesn’t just mean they can distinguish elements from each other, but they can make them distinguishable from everything else in the game. If you have a red team and a blue team in a brown environment the teams will be distinct from each other, but the red team will likely be hard for colour-blind players to see against the environment.
  • If you have a large artistic team, create colour presets that they can assign textures to (e.g. “colour=enemy”). This will allow you to manage the colour information of your product as a whole and work it into your colour-blind modes.
  • In multiplayer games, character customisation often allows colour-blind players to create a character silhouette that they can recognise. For example; I don’t need to know that my character is green, I just need to know that it’s the one wearing the top hat.
  • Make your colour options easy to find in the menus. Either have a specific accessibility menu or include them in the top-level graphics options. Make it as easy as possible for players to find the options that can make the experience playable.
  • And finally, talk about your features with colour-blind players to see if they’re usable.  Remember that some colour features may be completely invisible to them, so be sure to explain the gameplay intentions of your features, systems and art.

 

This guide was contributed by Creative Assembly to 'Can I Play That?' as part of their accessibility series.