Monday, April 30, 2018

Video Game Subtitles: The Good & The Bad

Nowadays, most video games, from the tiniest independent title to the AAA blockbusters have subtitles. Subtitles are important not just for the Deaf and hard of hearing-- players with audio processing disorders need them too, as well as player who need the voices or sound lowered for whatever reason. Max Deryagin, an expert consultant on subtitles whose work has appeared in hundreds of videos, is also an avid video game player. His thoughst on what video game with subtitles often fail to do correctly is a well-thought-out article with plenty of examples from last year about what not do to. Here's an example of an irritating problem I ran into way too often: crappy contrast between the subtitle text and the actual game environment...

if the game is highly dynamic, you don't have much time to focus on the subs, so it can be really hard to keep up with them when the contrast is low. Let me demonstrate that in the video clip below. Try to pay attention both to the image and the text. (The clips are muted to imitate not hearing the dialogue well, when you'd want to enable subtitles.)

Subtitles in Star Wars Battlefront II from Max Deryagin on Vimeo.

Ridiculous, isn't it? I can't even read the text in time, let alone enjoy the scenery or concentrate on the action.

Max's post includes a lot more common subtitling implementation mistakes from last year, so whether you're a game player or a game developer, it's essential reading.

As with previous posts I've made on accessibility, these issues don't just affect gamers with disabilities. Making games-- or whatever content you're distributing-- accessible makes them available to a wider audience, and if just a little thought and consideration goes into these measures at the beginning, they can be both super easy and super cheap to include from the get-go.

1 comment:

ellindsey said...

Yeah, that's barely legible. Meeting the letter of the law without meeting the intent.

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