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A Gamer asks for subtitles

Continuing the theme of accessibility, a Deaf Gamer asks for subtitles:

Dear Sir or Ma'aam,

I am a deaf 20 year old that loves to play videogames. I've been playing videogames ever since I first played the Atari 2600 with my father as a young child. Back then, games were not as complex as they are today. Sometimes, as a deaf gamer, I struggle with many mission based games such as Quake 4, Star Wars: Rouge Squadron Rouge Leader, Perfect Dark 0, Need for Speed: Carbon, X2: Wolverine's Revenge and many others. The reason for the frustration is for the lack of subtitles in the above mentioned titles. Quake 4 is a perfect example of my frustrations of what I am supposed to do next because the mission objectives and ways to beat certain bosses were given over the intercom and it was mostly garbled. Perfect Dark 0 was frustrating for me because I had no idea what was going on with the story. At one point I was fighting in buildings shooting at mobsters and all of a sudden I'm fighting a midget skinless Chinese dude with a sword in some alternate dimension. That did not make sense for me at all because... who was that Chinese dude?

I may be deaf but I do have most of my hearing left over. I depend mostly on my eyesight to give me information while playing games. Mostly, depending on eyesights make my job for completing games a much more daunting task than they should be.

Another game I would like to bring up is Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Both of these games rely on hearing much like in MGS2:SoL bomb searching which you use a device that beeps in a high tone if your near a bomb so you can disable them. I had a tough time searching for the bombs in the game since I cannot hear high pitch tones that well.

Maybe in the future, if you can start putting subtitles in the games, especially Halo 3 since I am a huge Halo addict. Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 did not have subtitles though Halo 2 had subtitles but only in the cutscenes as 70% of the game did not.

I hope I can hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Via Yoav @ Deaf UK Technology

I've been thinking about this issue a lot recently, not gaming, but access online. I was going to add it here, but decided against it. Its too important an issue, and something that warrants a post by itself.

Update: This story also appears on Digg with supporting comments. I would recommend people join in, to push this issue into the mainstream, especially as the audience includes people who have some whack in the gaming world. Useful for future contacts? Via Tomato @ Deaf UK Technology.

See also:
BBC & accessible online content
IBM addresses multimedia access for blind. Deaf access where?
Vlogging grows, where's the subtitles?

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Comments

My son plays these things all the time and asks for help when he gets to hard bits, I cannot help, as I have no idea what the plot is or what was clues were given, so they'd help me too !

The industy can't use the excuse that it's technically not possible or too expensive or whatever else.

Half Life 2 - a hugely popular game that have gotten massive rave reviews and often voted as the best game of the year etc etc - simply put it's a massively popular game.

It's FULLY subtitled throughout. And that includes all the little dialogues going on by other game characters that's irrelevant to the story.

In fact - Valve (the game developers) had thought it out carefully - you get two choice of subtitles - one is "Captions" and the other one is "Dialogue subtitles".

The difference between the two are:

Caption: Everything is subtitled (dialogue AND sound effect (ie etc)

Subtitles: Only the dialogue is subtitled but not the sound effect.

It's the first time I've truly enjoyed a computer game so much. I played the first Half Life - which did have a lot of dialogue - no idea what happened as no subtitles, but many deafies did ask Valve for the transcript - hence Half Life 2 appearing with subtitles.

It's not the only game. Killzone - which is a Playstation 2 game, is also subtitled so it does apply to other platforms not just PC.

Unfortunately my son is far too young to play these games, and on principle I never buy games with violence in them anyway. They shold all contain subtitles.

Dear all,

Unfortunatelly not many video games have the SDH option, but we can only start putting preassure on developers and publishers by grouping in associations.

There is this web site that has reviews for deaf gamers. I believe it could be a start. Have a look:
www.deafgamers.com

Life is a game, PLAY IT!

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