Are Your Games Playing Fair? How to Design Inclusive Gaming Experiences for All

Discover the importance of inclusive game design by considering physical, cognitive, and cultural inclusivity. Learn how to create games that cater to a diverse range of participants. Up your game design skills now!

We believe that games have the power to bring people together, foster empathy and understanding, and provide meaningful experiences for players of all backgrounds. However, for games to truly achieve this potential, they need to be designed with inclusivity and accessibility at their core.

As game designers, it's our responsibility to create games that welcome and engage a diverse range of participants – considering factors like physical ability, cognitive differences, cultural background, age, and more. By deliberately designing for inclusivity, we can craft gaming experiences that are not only more equitable, but ultimately richer and more rewarding for everyone involved.

In this post, we'll share some of the key principles and strategies that guide our approach to inclusive game design at The LGP. Whether you're a fellow designer looking to make your games more accessible, or simply a gamer interested in the behind-the-scenes of how inclusion shapes the play experiences you enjoy, read on for our insights.

Considering the Full Spectrum of Ability
One of the first factors we consider when designing any game at The LGP is the wide range of physical and cognitive abilities that players may have. We recognise that the "average gamer" is a myth – in reality, players' capabilities exist along a varied spectrum.

On the physical front, gamers may have mobility impairments, limited dexterity, low vision or blindness, deafness or hearing difficulties, or other physical disabilities that affect how they engage with a game. Cognitively, players may be neurodivergent, have learning disabilities, or simply process information in different ways.

As game designers, it's crucial that we keep this spectrum of ability in mind and proactively design to accommodate it. Some key tactics we employ include:

Offering multiple engagement options and input methods to suit different needs and preferences
Building in accessibility features like, audio description tracks, colour blind handouts, contrast settings, and consider text size adjustments
Ensuring critical information is conveyed through multiple senses/outputs (visual, auditory, haptic, etc.)
Play-testing with gamers who have a range of abilities to surface pain points and opportunities for enhanced accessibility

By deliberately designing for the margins and making our games more accessible, we create better experiences for all players. Accommodations that may be essential for gamers with disabilities often end up benefiting a much wider swath of players by offering more options, flexibility and clarity.

Representation and Inclusion
Another key dimension of inclusive game design involves representation – ensuring that the characters, storylines, and environments in our games reflect the diversity of real-world cultures and identities. All players deserve to feel seen and welcomed in the game worlds we create.

Some important representation factors we consider include:
Featuring protagonists and characters of different races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, ages, body types, etc.
Handling representation sensitively and authentically, ideally developed in collaboration with consultants
Exploring storylines and themes that resonate with a variety of life experiences and backgrounds
Avoiding stereotypes, tokenism, and appropriation in character designs and narratives
Creating open, inviting game environments that feel culturally accessible to a range of players

Of course, representation goes beyond just the content of the games themselves. As an industry, we also need to consider diversity, equity and inclusion in our studios, on our design teams, and in our player communities. Bringing more underrepresented voices to the table will organically lead to games that better serve a true spectrum of players.

Fostering Inclusive Player Interactions
Inclusion isn't just about a game itself, but also the community and interactions surrounding it. This is especially key for online multiplayer games to consider. How do we design games that foster prosocial, respectful interactions between players and mitigate toxicity?

At The LGP, we take table culture management seriously as part of the inclusive gaming experience. Some strategies we employ:
Setting clear codes of conduct for interactions, with active moderation
Giving players tools to protect themselves, like blocking, veto and confrontation systems
Building game mechanics and reward systems that incentivize cooperation and discourage griefing when possible
Actively pitching tables to reach out and out to welcome underrepresented player communities

By thoughtfully structuring the social systems around our games, we can make them welcoming spaces for a wider range of players. Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in gaming spaces.

At The LGP, we know that players can't engage with us or our games at all if they can't discover them and get oriented in the first place. Some inclusive practices we are working on:
Ensuring our websites, and marketing meet accessibility standards
Providing audio description tracks and subtitles for trailers and promo videos when possible

By lowering the barriers to entry, we can welcome more players from all walks of life to experience the games we pour our hearts into creating.

Inclusive Playtesting and Player Feedback
Finally, we believe one of the most important parts of inclusive game design is actively seeking input from a diverse range of players throughout the development process.

Playtesting with gamers of different abilities, backgrounds, identities, and experience levels is essential for surfacing accessibility gaps and identifying opportunities to enhance inclusion. Beyond just organised playtesting, openly inviting and being responsive to player feedback helps ensure we're meeting our audience's needs.

At The LGP, we aim to partner with accessibility consultants and advocacy organisations to help scrutinize our games from an inclusion lens. We also make a point to recruit underrepresented playtesters, and we always protect our players' safety.

By closely listening to players and being transparent in our efforts to continually learn and improve, we aim to show that we're serious about making gaming a welcoming space for all.

Inclusion Is an Ongoing Journey
At the end of the day, designing truly inclusive games is a complex, multifaceted challenge – but it's one we believe is well worth the effort. Not only is it a moral imperative in our view, but it also leads to richer, more innovative games that can connect and delight a wider audience.

However, we recognise that inclusion is an ongoing, iterative process – not a one-and-done checklist. As an industry and as a society, we still have a long way to go to make gaming spaces equally accessible to all. There will inevitably be missteps and blind spots along the way.

What's important is that we stay committed to continually educating ourselves, seeking diverse perspectives, and striving to do better with every game we create. We must remain open to feedback, accountable for our lapses, and proactive about inclusion.

Together, we believe the gaming community can work to tear down barriers, amplify marginalised voices, and realise the true unifying power of play. The road to inclusion is long, but it's one we're committed to walk alongside all of you.

Let's keep this much-needed conversation going. In the meantime, we'll be here at The LGP, hard at work on crafting gaming experiences that invite everyone to play.

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