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Making gaming accessible to disabled gamers has become a renewed initiative amongst some developers. The closed down control scheme that's been rampant in console gaming (and some PC games) the last two gens have made it highly inaccessible for those with disabilities. Well, Blizzard has joined Naughty Dog in the quest to put an end to inaccessible games, by implementing customizable console controls in Overwatch.
Eurogamer did a brief write-up on a Reddit user named zak552, who wrote a "thank you" message to Blizzard on the Overwatch sub-Reddit, explaining that the customizable controls in the console version of Overwatch enabled him to play many of the characters despite the hindrance that his cerebral palsy poses for his game-playing sessions. He explained that for the first time in a first-person shooter he was able to land a headshot by playing the sniper Widowmaker, writing...
I just wanted to thank you, Blizzard, for having near endless control customisation in Overwatch, […] I don't know if this was your goal, but because of your extensive options I am able to play every character in the roster and it feels great. Because of you I made my first snipe in a video game today.
Eurogamer points out that this is very similar to Naughty Dog taking Josh Straub's comments to heart for the accessibility features in Uncharted 4. Straub is a disabled gamer who created the Disabled Accessibility for Gaming Entertainment Rating System (DAGER System for short) to help disabled gamers find games and products within the world of interactive entertainment that makes it easy or convenient for them to game despite having a mobility or functional sensory disability.
A lot of the games during the sixth and seventh generation of console gaming did not allow for the customization of controls. This was one of the biggest complaints about the Halo game series, which forcibly locked gamers to preset control layouts as opposed to giving them the option to reconfigure the game pad to their liking.
Some PC gamers ported from home consoles even took those bad habits to heart and restricted the control pad options to mirror whatever the layouts were for the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions of the game.
Those kind of restrictions have not been met kindly within the community of disabled gamers since it completely blocks some of them out from accessing and playing the game to some measure of enjoyment. In the case of Overwatch, Blizzard allowed zak552 and others to rearrange the controls on home console so that they can play the game to the best of their ability.
Previously zak552 mentioned that in many games he was only able to use shotguns in games because of his disability only one hand could be used on the controller at a time and only two buttons could be pressed simultaneously, thus limiting what weapons could be used in a game and how they could be played.
After zak522 posted up the thank you, he received more than 700 replies and more than 4500 upvotes over on the Overwatch sub-Reddit. This is likely going to reverberate with a lot of positive PR for Blizzard across the interwebs.
Overwatch is available right now for the PS4, PC and Xbox One for $60.