Accessibility for our players has always been an important topic for Assassin’s Creed. To shed some light on how this issue impacts players’ gaming experience, we sat down with Associate Presentation Director Jonathan Bédard, who acted as a UX and accessibility advocate on Assassin’s Creed® Odyssey. He gives us some insight into how Ubisoft is taking the lead in bringing accessibility to gaming.

CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT ACCESSIBILITY IN VIDEO GAMES?

Accessibility is all about inclusion and permitting more players to enjoy our games.

Typically, it is associated with disabled gamers who live with a form of handicap that prevents them from playing our games as they were designed. Players with either sensory, motor, or cognitive impairments can be partially or even completely locked out of our games, for reasons that can sometimes be easily prevented.

Generally speaking, we need to better recognize when and how we are excluding people by putting up barriers. It is usually not even intentional.Do not think of inclusivity as making the game less by diluting the experience, but more about making it more. More accessible, more inclusive, more personal.In that sense, listening to the community and asking them what they want and how they want to play your game is key to our initiatives.

I think inclusive design is an industry effort and should be agnostic of a business or corporate angle – we can help each other and learn from each other. For instance, we are very inspired by the work of our peers out there. Sony does tremendous work with the franchises it works on and keeps building up very inclusive games. Microsoft also goes a long way with its outstanding work on advocating inclusivity, as well as providing new and innovative ways to use existing and new hardware.

WHAT IS UBISOFT'S STANCE ON ACCESSIBILITY?

JB: On the accessibility topic, as a company, we aim at empowering people with better inclusion for not only disabled gamers, but all gamers.

It transcends disabilities. Accessibility features often lead to more comfort and more agency in the way you want to play, for everyone. At the heart of our initiative on accessibility lies two key angles: knowledge-sharing and a growing proximity to our players. Ubisoft has built and continues to build a company culture of sharing intelligence. Capitalizing on our mutual findings is key and takes advantage of Ubisoft's large network of studios and projects portfolio. The various communities of experts contribute their findings and ask opinions of others on the challenges they face.

The second angle is about including our players in the creation process. Ubisoft has invested heavily into user research and also believes in having a strong connection with our player communities.This gives us a rare and valuable insight into several types of player experiences. We must never assume that we know everything our gamers want. They know better and are willing to share.

While we can't make everything every time, we can raise awareness and keep building for the future, one step at a time. It is important to understand that oftentimes, adding inclusive features doesn't have to take away anything from able-bodied gamers, so in the end, everybody benefits.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THE IMPROVEMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE FROM ASSASSIN'S CREED® ORIGINS TO ASSASSIN'S CREED ODYSSEY?

JB: In the case of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, we had the chance to build on the successes of Assassin's Creed Origins.

We went to great lengths to ensure that Assassin's Creed Origins' accessibility options found their way over to our game, and some of them are now improved or complemented by new additions. An example would be the HUD presets – we added more granularity to give more flexibility in how you can experience the game. Subtitles, which were praised by the accessibility community, also got some love in the form of an option to modify their size, adapting them to individual needs.

In terms of additions, we already announced plans to support the game after launch with more content, but we also have some features aimed at improving comfort for everyone, like options to customize gamepads, for instance.

WHAT IS UBISOFT'S STANCE ON ACCESSIBILITY?

JB: On the accessibility topic, as a company, we aim at empowering people with better inclusion for not only disabled gamers, but all gamers.

It transcends disabilities. Accessibility features often lead to more comfort and more agency in the way you want to play, for everyone. At the heart of our initiative on accessibility lies two key angles: knowledge-sharing and a growing proximity to our players. Ubisoft has built and continues to build a company culture of sharing intelligence. Capitalizing on our mutual findings is key and takes advantage of Ubisoft's large network of studios and projects portfolio. The various communities of experts contribute their findings and ask opinions of others on the challenges they face.

The second angle is about including our players in the creation process. Ubisoft has invested heavily into user research and also believes in having a strong connection with our player communities.This gives us a rare and valuable insight into several types of player experiences. We must never assume that we know everything our gamers want. They know better and are willing to share.

While we can't make everything every time, we can raise awareness and keep building for the future, one step at a time. It is important to understand that oftentimes, adding inclusive features doesn't have to take away anything from able-bodied gamers, so in the end, everybody benefits.

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