The games industry has been improving accessibility greatly in recent years, with titles like Sony's The Last of Us 2 showing some of the innovative ways developers are making sure more people can play games than ever before. Now, a new patent filed by Sony could show that the company is far from finished working to make its games more accessible.
With video games innately being a medium anchored in video and audio, as well as requiring mechanical inputs from the player, many different disabilities can prevent or inhibit gamers from being able to enjoy many different games. While many games like the aforementioned The Last of Us 2 implement creative solutions to allow all players to experience the game, there is still a lot of work that can be done in the industry to make accessibility more common.
Sony's new patent looks to continue the company's innovation streak and increase accessibility using a new AI feature. The patent's goal is to mitigate the high financial and time costs of adding accessibility features into video games so that more studios can afford to include those features.
The patent explains that accessibility features that are common in other media, like subtitles or descriptive audio, are more difficult to implement in video games as a consequence of player influence. With gameplay scenarios playing differently depending on a player's actions and decisions, it can be extremely costly to add some of these features in as they have to account for so many different factors.
Utilizing AI, like Sony's patent suggests, would help resolve this issue, as it would be better suited to reactively fill in the gaps for players playing with disabilities. Features such as descriptive audio, generating subtitles, or even applying different filters to adjust the color profile of scenes for color-blind players would be just some of the AI's possible applications. Interestingly, the patent also gives some detail on the possibility of utilizing the AI to add missing accessibility features into titles that have already launched without them, similar to how next-generation Xbox consoles can increase the performance of older titles.
While many patents are filed without ever seeing consequently hardware or software releases, this one filed by Sony would be a great one to see come to fruition. Allowing more players to play games is always a positive for the industry and the patent's ability to even make older games more accessible would be huge for allowing players with disabilities to be able to visit more classic games that they might not have been able to before.
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