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Fun for everyone: How Naughty Dog made ‘Uncharted 4’ accessible for disabled gamers

Video games aren’t always the kindest form of entertainment for those suffering from disabilities, with limited control schemes, small fonts, and even color choices potentially preventing some prospective players from enjoying the medium. Naughty Dog has worked extensively to eliminate this accessibility gap, and the developer released a video detailing exactly what steps it took to ensure that its latest game, Uncharted 4, could be more user-friendly.

“Growing up, my options for entertainment were limited,” says D.A.G.E.R. editor-in-chief and former Game Informer intern Josh Straub. “What developers need to realize is that these games do more than just entertain the disabled. First of all, they provide an escape from sort of the doldrums of being disabled. And second of all, they provide a social space where, instead of being judged by physical appearance, we’re purely judged by the actions that we do and the things that we produce in the game.”

Josh, who suffers from cerebral palsy, reached out to Naughty Dog to discuss what options the studio was taking to ensure people with disabilities would be able to complete the game. He was already a fan of the series, but was frustrated that he couldn’t complete Uncharted 2 because of a button-mashing sequence near the end.

This should no longer be an issue in Uncharted 4. While the game does still make pretty extensive use of button mashing for moving certain objects and some cinematic moments, there is now an option to simply hold down the button instead. And this isn’t just limited to scripted events — it can actually make the melee system easier to use, as well.

The game’s camera system was also tweaked to allow for players to primarily use only the left analogue stick, and camera lock-on, which, as we’ve previously seen in the third-person shooting of the Grand Theft Auto series, also largely eliminates the need for dual-stick aiming.

“When I turn on a game like Uncharted, I’m not, you know, confined to a wheelchair,” Straub adds. “I’m a swashbuckling, ne’er-do-well treasure hunter like Nathan Drake. That period of escape is why accessibility is so crucial, because the more games that offer that, the more people with disabilities will be able to escape and have better lives.”