Corporate Hell

The Trigger:

The proposed game, Corporate Hell, needs to be accessible for Deaf gamer as it is dialogue based. The player progresses through the point and click game by listening to the characters for clues.

The Quest:

The obvious solution is subtitles. However, there are many aesthetic style choices about how the subtitles could be displayed and implemented in to the developing game.

  • RPG style text box
    • Fixed duration
    • Can click to skip text
    • One letter at a time
    • One word at a time
    • Whole sentence
  • Subtitles
    • Scribe speech only
    • Scribe speech and sound effects
    • Also called:
      • Captions
      • Closed Captions
      • Subtitles for Hearing Impaired

I chose to research into and develop subtitles for Hearing Impaired taking into account the recommended guidelines in creating effective and useful subtitles.

The Heroine:

My role:  Accessibility Designer and Programmer. The role was relatively unknown to the rest of the team,  as this specialism is not covered as part of the course, but is related to my area of interest. There was a steep learning curve for the team, myself included, to consider accessibility (or usability for all) within our design.

I needed to be strong and clear when presenting my ideas and suggestions to the team. My aim was to improve the overall experience of the developing game and to broaden our potential audience.

Though creating subtitles looked deceptively simple, there were a surprising amount of issues involved that challenged and developed my coding skills with C# and Unity. In the end, I managed to develop a subtitles system that worked well for speech. However, I was unable to include many of my planned nuances which would have improved the overall gaming experience, both hearing and d/Deaf. Time constraints and my limited knowledge and skill restricted the success of this asset. If the project had been over a longer period, I may have been able to achieve more against what I had planned.

Please check the game on Itch.io hosted by Jason Wood, the main programmer of the project.

The Wisdom:

The asset I produced was a partial success overall. Its development taught me a great deal and allowed me, as a Deaf gamer, to play our game! Without integrated subtitles the game would not have been accessible to me.

This project helped me to develop team working skills, working with fellow programmers, on our first Collaborative Project. We were often working on the same script, which required excellent communication skills, supportive co-working and problem-solving and good organisation and time management. There were also challenges and opportunities for learning.  Whilst my programming colleague worked on the audio element (speech and sound effects), I developed the script for subtitles independently. We encountered problems to efficiently merge our assets. Working together, we adapted the subtitles asset so it could be more easily merged with his script without needing to revamp the asset. This was not perfect yet it worked nicely.

The experience helped to broaden my understanding and how several aspects of games development can overlap demonstrating that accessibility is a part of overall user experience design and usability best practices according to International Standards (ISO) 9241, part 210 and 9241, part 11. The wisdom gained from the experience helped me to better understand what role I would like to take on within the games industry in the future.