A blind gamer recently shared his response to seeing The Last of Us Part 2 accessibility options for the first time, remarking that this is what he and the accessibility community of large have been advocating for.
Steve Saylor is a video game accessibility consultant who serves as the media editor for Can I Play That. After receiving The Last of Us Part 2 early, Saylor was blown away by the sheer scale of its suite of accessibility options.
Saylor recorded his reaction and posted it to Twitter, which you can check out below.
I've been reluctant to post this.
This is why we do what we do. 😢
— Steve Saylor – Canadian Game Award Nominee (@stevesaylor) June 12, 2020
“I’ve been reluctant to post this,” reads the tweet. “I recorded my reaction when I saw the accessibility settings in The Last of Us Part 2 for the first time thinking it would be a fun video for posterity.”
“I…did not expect this. This is why we do what we do. Thank you Naughty Dog.”
In the video itself, Saylor speaks about how significant this is for the games industry as a whole. “Y’all don’t even know,” he says. “Y’all don’t even know how much…”
“I don’t even know what to say. There’s so much here. This is what myself and people in the accessibility community have been advocating for, for so long.”
You can check out Saylor’s full impressions in the The Last of Us Part 2 accessibility video he made with Courney Craven, which is embedded below. As you’ll see, they specifically call it the “most accessible game ever.”
Developers from Naughty Dog have chimed in since Saylor’s original tweet. Robert Krekel, who is an audio lead at the studio, posted a thread about how the audio design allows people to play through the entire game even if they are completely blind.
Check it out below.
A few things I want to point out about our audio related accessibility options in The Last of Us Part 2. THREAD 1/7
— Robert Krekel (@robkrekel) June 1, 2020
“You can pretty much play the game completely with just audio,” the thread continues. “One of our extremely talent[ed] sound designers, Justin Mullens, spent a long time crafting a complete set of sound tools to help blind and low vision players. It’s astounding how well it works.”
“We implemented a complete Text To Speech system and made sure that it was compatible with all our needed words and phrases,” Krekel adds. “It’s extremely comprehensive and not something that I have seen a single game do as it is usually done on the platform level.” The text-to-speech system is also localized, as opposed to being just in English.
We took a big step on The Last of Us Part 2 with accessibility but we are not satisfied,” concludes Krekel. “We will continue to evolve and improve these systems over our coming projects. The goal being that anyone should be able to finish our games. Games are for everyone.”
Meanwhile, major game directors such as Cory Barlog, who fronts the God of War team, have joined the conversation too. Barlog specifically replied to someone who had responded to the video saying it’s “just a game.”
it may 'just be a game' but accessibility support like this is a big thing. more of us in the development community should be striving to support these (and more) features.
— Cory Balrog 🖖 (@corybarlog) June 13, 2020
“It may ‘just be a game’ but accessibility support like this is a big thing,” writes Barlog. “More of us in the development community should be striving to support these (and more) features.”
Naughty Dog’s UI scripter, Ethan Tal, also shared his thoughts. Working in UI, Tal likely had a huge hand in developing The Last of Us Part 2’s accessibility options, and is a “diversity/accessibility advocate” according to his Twitter bio.
I'm crying Steve. Thank you so much for sharing this video. It was great meeting you at the studio, and I am so greatdul and proud to be on this team. We all dedicate the countless hours to this field right here. No barriers. No cutting corners. So everyone can play♥️
— Ethan Tal (@ethan_tal) June 12, 2020
“I’m crying Steve,” writes Tal. “Thank you so much for sharing this video. It was great meeting you at the studio, and I am so grateful and proud to be on this team.”
“We all dedicate the countless hours to this field right here. No barriers. No cutting corners. So everyone can play.”