Ask a Dork: Accessible Games
What would you consider an accessible game? What makes a game accessible?
I think we should probably start by looking at what the word “accessible” means. For something to be considered truly accessible, it has to be easily attainable, tremendously consumable, and incredibly simple to use. A game is only “accessible” if it aims to satisfy every audience instead of pleasing a single niche. To that end, games like Mass Effect, Bioshock Infinite, and Silent Hill are not accessible. They may be amazing, but they ultimately don’t position themselves to please your five year old son or grandmother.
So what games could be considered accessible? Well, a quick peek around Facebook would indicate that Farmville is still pleasing housewives, the elderly, and children alike. It’s easy to use, inexpensive to start, and the paper-thin narrative and simple UI are hardly challenging to your brain. Well, at least they shouldn’t be. To that end, Farmville is very much accessible. Unfortunately, it’s also not good; Farmville is a poor man’s Harvest Moon.
If you’d like an example of a good accessible game, look to the Super Mario series. Every Mario game, regardless of controls or console, can be jumped into by gamers young or old. The colourful aesthetics, simple controls, reliably predictable story arc, and solid platforming mechanics make every Mario title not only good, but also tremendously accessible. Which is also why it has sold so well.
I wish I could say that all good games, regardless of their accessibility, make money. Sadly, that’s not true. Amazing games like System Shock 2, Thief, or Deus Ex could never be played by the average gamer because they aren’t tremendously accessible. As a result, they make less money. Whereas, atrocious social games made by GREE (god I hate this company) or Zynga could make oodles of money without really trying. For better or worse, accessibility matters.