Microsoft: Making games more accessible is both the right thing to do and good for business

Microsoft: Making games more accessible is both the right thing to do and good for business

Microsoft's focus on accessibility is a call to the industry to help get more differently-abled people into video games.

That's according to Mixer program manager and gaming and disability community lead Tara Voelker, who told that the big M's focus on helping differently-abled people getting into games is the right thing to do but also a sound business decision.

Microsoft revealed the Adaptive Controller ahead of E3 this year and has also recently rolled out more diverse avatars for Xbox Live, featuring people in wheelchairs for example.

"We're saying that all gamers are important and if the industry is going to keep saying it's about all gamers and wanting everyone to play their games," she said.

"Your target audience is everyone, so you then you should mean it. Everyone includes gamers with disabilities who are actually more dedicated customers; they play your titles for more hours more frequently than their non-disabled counterparts and they're more likely to buy more of your products. It's not just: 'You should do it because it's the right thing to do, don't be a shitty person, but also because it's a really good financial business investment to make products for gamers with disabilities'. If you're not going to be a good person, we have to tell you another reason, that you can make money doing it."

Asked what more needs to be done to help make video games more accessible to differently-abled people, Voelker says that we need certain standards across the market as well as better representation.

"The games industry needs to step up and do two separate things. The first is that we need to standardise as an industry some basic accessibility features," she said.

"Having remappable controls be a standard thing you accept in a video game. Having video game subtitles be big enough to read and in a sans serif font. There are some really basic things that not all games have that are easy wins that we need to get better at doing.

"Secondly, we need better representation of people with disabilities in video games. We've been seeing more representation lately but it's not always the best representation. You'll see a character in a wheelchair and my first reaction is excitement but then you look closer and think: 'That person would never actually use that type of wheelchair'. It's a step in the right direction but if they had just spoken to a wheelchair user, they would have been able to give them that feedback. We have to have an actual dialogue with people to make sure that when we do have representation it's the right representation."

You can read more from Voelkler in our full interviews about both Mixer and Microsoft's accessibility focus 

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.