By Neil McCormick
Imagine you lived in a world, in which red and green, just looked the same. It would not be fun would it? Now imagine you are that person living with that problem, you buy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, fire up the game, go to play online and discover to your horror that the online teams are separated by user names being shown in either red and green. You remember that the last Call of Duty Game, there was an option to change the colours. So you go through all the settings and discover for what ever reason Infinity Ward chose to not include the option.
Bear in mind, approximately 1 in ten people suffer from colour blindness. Divide the total number of those playing Call of duty : Modern warfare 2 by 10 and you get quite a large number of players, potentially having an unfair disadvantage in their online experience.
Helen aka hodsey77, is one of the many out there, for which this has affected her gaming experience. However she decided to do something about it, and has set up an online petition for people to register their support, in the hope that the developers will be able to address this inequality with a patch for the game.
Helen kindly agreed to answer some questions on this matter.
1. So Helen , what consoles do you play, and what are your all time favourite games?
I have been a massive gamer since a young age, and have collected and owned most consoles and computers. Currently I play on my PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii. I also play DS frequently and occasionally the PSP. I still own a NES and Dreamcast but they’re only played rarely these days 🙂
I have so many all-time favourite games, it is very difficult to choose. Five of my favourites (in no particular order) are Chaos (Spectrum); Dizzy Series (Spectrum); Zelda: Link to the Past (SNES); Super Mario World (SNES); and more recently Fallout 3.
2) Until reading your tweets on twitter, I was ignorant to the possibility that colourblindness could be a problem in gaming, how is it a problem?
It is a problem in a lot of puzzle games that use colour to differentiate, such as Bejewelled 2 and Carcophony. Without a colour-blind mode, these games are unplayable.
In shooters it is a problem in how people are shown on maps and via the Heads-Up-Display. Quite often, the main thing that is used to distinguish between teams is the colour, and in some cases people that are colour-blind cannot see any difference.
There is nothing on game packaging to say whether the games support colour-blind modes, so quite often games are bought and then turn out to be unplayable.
3. So how can developers help colour blind gamers?
Developers can help by having an option to change the colours that are used, or have patterns to help differentiate objects. If developers cannot give us an option to change colours, why not have two colours that everyone can distinguish? Red and Green are the two most problematic colours for colour-blind people – it seems crazy that the industry standard seems to be to use these colours to identify two extremes.
In the case of the shooters, a simple option to change the colours from red / green to another colour would be enough. The Ghost Recon games had a colour blind mode, which changed the colours from red / green to orange / blue.
Hexic has a colour-blind mode which puts patterns on the shapes, so that they can be differentiated by something other than their colour. Peggle has a colour blind mode which uses shapes to differentiate between the special pegs.
I would like to see an additional symbol on the back of game packages to say whether the game is ‘colour-blind friendly’. There are symbols which show the number of players, if there is violence, if there is bad language, whether rumble is included, how much memory game saves can use, etc. This additional symbol would save purchases that turn out to be unplayable, but would also encourage people that are colour-blind to buy games that have the symbol included.
4. You say that Treyarch the developers of Call of Duty World of War were able to provide a colour blind option in the settings, surely this should have been a no brainer for Infinity Ward to have in place on release?
I bought the game expecting this to be in as standard and was shocked when there was no such option available.
At present, people that are red / green colour blind cannot tell friend from foe in the online matches, as their names appear in these colours, and the radar uses the colours too. This is causing frustration and putting them at a distinct disadvantage unless playing in Free-For-All matches. All that is needed is an option to change one of the colours to another and then they can be easily identified as friend or foe – this, as you say, was available in Call of Duty: World at War.
Upto 10% of people are colour-blind in some form – you would think that this option would be available as standard.
5. The fact that currently there is no option for colour blind people, does that mean you are unable to play the game?, is it just multiplayer, or does it affect the single player story as well?
It is not so much a problem with the offline mode, as names don’t appear above your enemies in this mode. Also, the objective markers are in yellow which can be easily identified.
The problem is only in the multi-player. Other than Free-For-All (which is every man for themselves), all of the other modes are nigh-on unplayable: either you inadvertantly shoot at your own team, thus giving away your position on the radar (and upsetting your team-mates!); or you hesitate whilst trying to determine if someone is on your team or not – this hesitation often results in your death!
Currently names appear above your comrades in Green. Names appear above your enemies in Red, but only if they are close enough – at a distance, no name is shown, and so you know it is an enemy. Problems mostly occur at close range for people that are Red / Green colour-blind as both the red and green writing above someone’s head looks the same, and so you are not instantly aware of whether friend or foe.
Your team can have different clothing, but in the heat of battle, that hesitation to check their clothing often gives them the split second they need to kill you
6. Have you contacted Activision / Infinity Ward, and if so how have they responded?
I have messaged @fourzerotwo (Robert Bowling, Creative Strategist for Infinity Ward) via Twitter, and @InfinityWard. I have had no response from either. I have voiced my opinion on a thread created on the Infinity Ward forums by someone else asking for a colour-blind mode, and on various other websites. I have yet to see any response from Infinity Ward. Someone on one thread had phoned the Activision customer service line and was told to create a message on their forums.
7. How can people help with your campaign?
People can help by signing my petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/hodsey77/ and also by spreading the word about the campaign. People can ‘re-tweet’ my message on twitter and keep contacting Infinity Ward / Activition in the hope that they release a patch.
RT @hodsey77 Petition for a #ColourBlind option in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 http://petol.org/hodsey77 #MW2 #ColorBlind
It is not right that people that are colour-blind are unable to play this game to the full extent of people without any vision problems – We would like to get this patch and ensure that everyone has a fair chance in the online modes of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
I contacted both infinity Ward and Activision, for a statement. To date I am still waiting a response. If I do receive a statement, I will provide an update.
So all I can do now, is ask, that you take a couple of minutes and fill out the petition, and help colour blind gamers.