US legislation requires new games' communication aspects to be accessible to those with disabilities
The start of 2019 brings about a new change involving future video game releases. In 2010, a law called the Communications and Video Visibility Act was passed in the United States which required media to be accessible to those of varying or disabled capabilities. Since then, the Electronic Software Association, (ESA), has appealed for a waiver that allowed video games to be exempt from this law. However, as of 2019, the waiver has expired, and all video games with development cycles starting in 2019, or pre-existing games with major updates in 2019 must adhere to the CVAA, lest they be fined by the FCC.
- Games that enter development after this date must be fully compliant.
- Games already in development after this date but released after it must be as compliant as possible, how far through development the game was at Dec 31st may be taken into account in case of a complaint.
- Games released before this date that receive substantial updates after it must also be compliant.
Something to note, is that the CVAA does not force all games to cater or tailor their gameplay to those with disabilities, but instead it means that communications aspects within gaming must be accessible. Game chats will need to ensure certain things, with examples such as their in-game chat UI's being readable to those with eyesight issues, or that voice communication is easy to use if it's an option as an alternative to reading chatlogs, or gaming chats having a text-to-speech toggle. This law focuses on the social aspect of gaming, rather than gameplay.