We invited visually impaired video gamer, activist and campaigner Dr Amy Kavanagh to compile a list of games with helpful, well thought out and intuitive navigation. As a streamer and disability consultant, Amy passionately advocates for gaming to be accessible for everyone...
One of the joys of gaming are the places you get to explore that you would never be able to visit in real life. This is particularly important to me as a low vision gamer. I often face barriers when navigating the world, so it’s thrilling when I get to experience driving a fast car in the dystopian London of Watch Dogs Legion, swinging through New York as Spider-Man or climbing a mountain on a secret pirate island as Nathan Drake in Uncharted 4.
Studies have shown that gaming improves both spatial awareness and navigation skills. However, getting unintentionally lost in a game is an all too common and very frustrating experience. Not knowing where to go or feeling confused about how to move from one location to another can be a challenge for many gamers, including new or younger players, low vision gamers like me and those with cognitive impairments.
The games in this list make exploring a virtual world smoother and finding your next mission fun rather than frustrating! There are some important factors that make games easier to navigate and can support you to improve your way-finding skills:
- Maps: A great starting point for being able to find your way around a game is a clear and detailed map. As in games like Spider-Man, it’s important that the world map is available from the beginning and supported by an easy to follow mini-map permanently on screen.
- Head Up Displays: Heads Up Display or Navigational Display provides information about the relationship between your character or avatar and the space they are existing in. As in games like Horizon Zero Dawn features like a compass, distance counter or radar can all be used to indicate in which direction an objective is.
- Objectives: Giving objectives, missions, collectables or even key interactions different colours or symbols means you can learn your way around a game quickly. As in games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, it’s even better when you can customize these symbols so they are larger or appear more frequently. Alternatively, making objectives obvious using lighting, key colours or camera views can make a game more navigable without adding complicated HUD mechanics.
- Directional Cues: Once you have reached your destination, prompts or clues about where you might find what you are looking for are also important. As in games like The Last of Us Part II this can include a camera view that will snap in the right direction, arrows or pointers, haptic feedback, audio cues or dialogue.
Some of my favourite games bring together these elements to make exploring a virtual world a treat rather than a chore. The standout example has to be The Last of Us Part II
, designed with blind and low vision consultants, the game is possible to find your way through even with no useful vision. The combination of audio cues and haptic feedback means you can enable constant prompts to help you navigate a dystopian and sometimes terrifying world.
A game that combines a range of directional information into a fun experience is Spider-Man
and the sequel Miles Morales
. From the option to swing through the city in high contrast mode, to the large objective icons and pinging backpacks, it’s easy to find your way around the richly detailed environment of New York city. So now it’s time to voyage into the digital unknown, here are some easier to navigate game to help you on your way.
This list includes 24 games from the last 25 years, with 681 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to find your way more easily.