EA’s Quest for Gaming Accessibility

Electronic Arts wants to make sure that it’s releases are accessible for all.

Photo by MG_54 via iStock.

Sign up to uncover the latest in emerging technology.

Electronic Arts wants to make sure that everyone can enjoy its releases. 

The company is seeking to patent a “color blindness diagnostic system,” which automatically determines whether or not a user needs color blindness accessibility settings turned on within the narrative course of a game.

First, this system determines a user’s “dichromatic visual deficiency type,” (a.k.a. type of color blindness, with a test based on “virtual color blindness indication objects,” or those with colors that are visually distinct from one another. This test may be built into EA games through a task or objective that prompts the user to interact with one of these objects. Then, based on that interaction, the game can determine if a user is colorblind and what kind of color blindness they have. 

EA said that this allows colorblind users to not only avoid having to immediately modify their settings at the start, but also helps them find color-based cues throughout the game. 

“Typically, the settings of a virtual environment, including those for color blind accessibility, are unavailable during the introduction of a user interactive narrative,” EA said in the filing. “Due to this limitation, color blind users of a video game often miss key visual cues for navigating and progressing through the user interactive narrative.” 

Photo via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Color can often be an important visual indicator in video game design. Think of the pulsing red outline that appears around the screen as a character is about to get knocked out in a fight, or how a certain color may indicate an enemy team member’s uniform. Without intuitive accessibility settings like EA is working on, these details represent a frustrating unintentional barrier to enjoyment for colorblind users. 

“Modern virtual environments, such as video games, often presume a user does not require modifications for color blind accessibility,” EA noted in its filing. 

EA’s patent isn’t the only move by a gaming company to make gaming more accessible. The pandemic gave way to a massive boom in the number of gamers. With that rise came a growing interest in accessibility features, with indie developers and high-budget studios alike upping their game.

For example, the Last of Us Part II, published by Sony in 2020, was widely regarded as a milestone for accessible gaming. More recently, God of War Ragnarök debuted in November with more than 70 accessibility settings, winning the AAA Excellence and Best Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing accessibility categories at the Game Accessibility Conference Awards this year. And Microsoft said its upcoming Forza Motorsport release will be the most accessible title of the franchise yet, with additions like Blind Driving Assist for low- or no-vision players, text-to-speech and fully remappable controls. 

With the momentum around accessible gaming from developers of all sizes, the tech in EA’s patent may be a step in trying to keep pace with the rising tide. 

Have any comments, tips or suggestions? Drop us a line! Email at admin@patentdrop.xyz or shoot us a DM on Twitter @patentdrop. If you want to get Patent Drop in your inbox, click here to subscribe.