Is Your Game Color Blind?

How we perceive the world can have a strong impact on our ability to successfully complete a task.

In the western world, we take vision for granted. 6 in 10 people in developed countries wear glasses, contact lenses, or have had corrective eye surgery. Of the remaining population, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 8 women have a form of color blindness.

image--001.jpg This image shows how a computer game designer might end up producing work that a color-blind individual struggles to perceive properly.

  • Deuteranomalia: green-blindness (most common)
  • Protanopia: red-blindness
  • Tritanopia: blue-blindness
  • Monochromacy: total-color blindness (affects 1 in 33,000 people)

Examples of Common Color Choice Problems

  • Stained Glass. Match the colored sides of tiles.
  • Twinoo. Perform math and color manipulations.
  • Loop. Draw circles around the same colored butterflies.

The above 3 games use colors that look nice to the developer, but they are too similar for a color-blind person. “I am unable to play any of those games without quickly running into issues with the colors chosen. On Loop, I run into problems on the second level. It’s a game made for young children and I can’t play it because of the color choices. — color-blind gamer

What Should You Do?

The following tips should be addressed by the graphics team during the design phase before any code is written:

  1. Make sure that the colors you use do not convey important information. If it can have an icon, USE AN ICON!
  2. If you can’t use an icon, use different shapes or avoid the dangerous color combos.
  3. Exaggerate the difference between foreground and background colors.
  4. Don’t use colors with a similar lightness, no matter how much they differ in saturation.
  5. Lighten the lighter colors and darken the darker ones.
  6. Daltonize your screenshots.

image--002.jpg

Includification

In the gaming world, there are over 100 million gamers with disabilities who want to enjoy gaming. Able Gamers is a nonprofit organization and foundation looking to bring more accessibility features into the video game space.

The term ‘Includification‘ was created so people with disabilities can improve their quality of life through gaming.

What gets frustrating is when games have color issues that could be addressed to include colorblind gamers but aren’t. Guacamelee! could ease my frustration by putting a button prompt above its shielded enemies. Far Cry 3 could let me change the color indicators on the minimap. And if BioShock 2 wants to include hacking games based on color, it could at least make each color wedge have a distinctive pattern. I’ve avoided BioShock 2 entirely because every locked room or hostile turret that I’d try to hack would be a 50–50 tossup for me. Green bars are successful hacks, red bars set off alarms, and I’d have no other way of knowing which is which. — What It’s Like To Play Games When You’re Colorblind

A New Way to See the Game

image--003.jpg

There has long been a subset of players who have touted the benefits of playing in colorblind mode. These players feel like the color difference provides better contrast and makes it easier to keep track of what is happening in-game.

I quickly realized that team fights are where the difference really shows up. The more muted colors seem to make it easier to keep track of what is happening in those chaotic team fights where several Heroes are packed into a narrow chokepoint and there are multiple AOE Abilities going off.

image--004.png The first step is to install ColorBlind, a color blindness simulator for Unity, or clone the repository and open the project in Unity. Next, attach the Assets/Colorblind/Colorblind.cs script to your camera, and view the Game tab. The script contains a dropdown, which can be used to configure what type of colorblindness you are simulating. Deuteranopia is the most common.

To preview the behavior, the Assets/Colorblind/TestScene directory contains a scene with two cameras pointed at a color swatch. One of the cameras has Colorblind.cs attached to it, and will appear differently.

There’s also a scripting API called VisionUtility, a palette of colors that should be distinguishable for normal vision.

Conclusion

After seeing all the evidence, I’d say it’s rather important to the potential success of your game to at least attempt to make your game color-blind friendly. Hopefully, the information in this post will help. Obviously, everyone with color blindness sees the world differently, however, it doesn’t have to stop them from getting in on the fun. Click here to learn how to make your games with Unity!

References

Originally published by I.B. Loud at gamedevjon.com on November 19, 2017.

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