God of War director Corey Barlog is joining other industry figures in a charge for increased accessibility in video games as it relates to video game difficulty and gameplay options.
“Accessibility has never and will never be a compromise to my vision,” said Barlog in a recent tweet in which a fan asked whether or not developers should have to compromise their vision for the benefit of the fans. Since that tweet, developers from studios like Platinum Games (makers of the Bayonetta series) have stepped forward to say that having accessibility options in their game didn’t compromise the integrity of the experience. One of the more interesting tweets came from Matt Thorson, creator of Celeste, who wondered what the recently released Sekiro would look like if it had an assist mode similar to the one featured in Celeste.
Indeed, Sekiro seems to be at the heart of this discussion at the moment. For years, people have asked whether or not Sekiro (and the Dark Souls series that partially inspired it), should have an easy mode. Fans of the game state that these titles are meant to be played at a higher difficulty and that forcing the developers to incorporate such a mode could hurt their fundamental design. Others point to similar challenging games which find ways to make accommodations while remaining difficult.
However, this recent debate is about much more than optional challenges. For instance, Steve Spohn, COO of Able Gamers, notes that many modern games still lack basic accessibility options for gamers who are physically unable to play these titles in their intended way. Spohn also reminds fans why it is that we have difficulty modes in games in the first place.
“Along the way in arguing whether or not difficulty levels should EXIST we forgot why difficulty levels were invented,” says Spohn. “Games are supposed to be about FUN. Difficulty levels are there to allow people to determine what FUN IS TO THEM.”
With more and more games (such as Apex Legends) adding optional accessibility features and companies like Microsoft going so far as to try to design controllers for the disabled, it does feel like a matter of time before titles like the excellent Sekiro are able to be enjoyed by a greater variety of players.