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Pokémon Video Games: They’re for the Visually Impaired Too

Although Pokémon video games were not created with disabilities in mind, the video games are very popular with the low vision and blind community. Gamers who have visual disabilities have made Pokémon accessible all on their own. Here we explain what a Pokémon is, describe how a gamer with a visual disability plays, and offer a few resources to help those with visual impairments play the game.

What is a Pokémon?

Pokémon, short for “pocket monster”, are small critters that live in a mythical world. They either live in the wild or with their trainers. Trainers, who are humans, catch Pokémon. After catching Pokémon, trainers raise and command them to win competitions and battles. The video game involves strategic thinking, such as choosing which Pokémon to play based on the type of element (for example, fire, water, grass) they have.

How Does a Gamer with a Visual Disability Play Pokémon Video Games?

Methods of playing with a visual disability differ depending on the type of visual impairment.

Sound is a common way for gamers who have a visual impairment to play Pokémon. For instance, some gamers use the Pokémon’s sounds to recognize them.

Furthermore, other distinct sounds that help gamers are:

  • Attacks
  • Getting into battles
  • Bumping into objects
  • Scrolling through items

Some of the newer Pokémon video games have included 3D sounds. Gamers are now able to hear when they are close to water or the changes in footsteps based on terrain.

Gamers with low vision

People with low vision commonly use accessories, such as a screen magnifier. Though some of the generic screen magnifiers give up quality, they still help users play the game.

Some gamers with low vision rely on their phones by zooming in on the text.

Gamers who are blind

Gamers with complete vision loss can use the bump method. When the gamer’s avatar bumps into something, such as a wall or another avatar, the gamer hears a sound.

There are also phone apps, such as Goggles, that uses the camera to read the text on the screen during the video game.

Pokémon resources

As mentioned above, Pokémon developers did not make the video games with accessibility in mind. Gamers make Pokémon accessible. The internet offers many resources for gamers. The subreddit “r/blindpokemon” is a place where gamers who are sighted and gamers with visual disabilities help each other play the game. People post all sorts of info, from walkthroughs to tutorials. The page can also help save time so that gamers do not have to map out every location in the game.

For gamers with a visual disability who want to learn about the look of a Pokémon,  there are fan pages like Bullbapedia. It offers details of the visual traits of the Pokémon. Some gamers also opt out of the story, as it can be very hard to read while playing. Bulbapedia also summarizes of the storyline. That way, gamers can read the story either as they go or after they finish the game.

Going Forward in the Gamer Community

While we should celebrate how gamers are breaking down barriers themselves, it would benefit the community if game makers themselves found ways to make games more accessible Though there is a world of gamers who help each other by using their own resources, it is not enough. Gaming companies need to think about making their games accessible. They need to offer aids, such as accessibility mode and apps that screen readers can understand, so that games can be inclusive to all gamers. Accessibility is becoming more recognized by tech companies. For instance, Microsoft created an accessible controller aimed at gamers with mobility disabilities. Gamers should not be left to make video games meet their needs. Gaming companies need to make games for all people of all abilities.