Ambitious and wildly well-financed space sim Star Citizen is developing a series of emotes built on American Sign Language (ASL).
In a welcome move towards accessibility, Cloud Imperium announced via update video (below, at 13:40) that it was working with hearing-impaired community members to create a series of ASL-based emotes. These include a range of emotions, common phrases like “Hello” and "Thank you”, and even a couple ruder exclamations.
The developer also plans to implement facial gesturing - a key part of ASL communication - in the near future. For now, however, it’s a welcome first step for a game that doesn't get the best press.
Much of the process behind this feature lies in roleplaying, letting deaf players take on a character just like them in virtual space. But there’s a wider question in how accessibility should work. Deaf people may consider languages like ASL their first “tongue”, with their native spoken/written language a second language.
But it pays to mention that ASL is not a universal sign language - even in countries where English is the audible spoken language. Here in the UK, deaf and the hard of hearing use British Sign Language, which shares similarities but isn’t a one-to-one match.
As a gesture, these emotes are welcome, but localising animations could be much trickier than swapping out audio or text files.
If Star Citizen is going to continue to make ludicrous amounts of cash, then at least some of it can go towards a worthwhile piece of inclusion.