Back in 2009, Motown legend Stevie Wonder proposed an idea that sounded impossible: Making video games accessible to blind people. While it's tricky to imagine representing a fast-paced first-person shooter through any means other than sight, that may now be within the realm of imagination. That's because the developers of the new "Forza Motorsport" have created an assist that lets people who can't see race like the rest of us.
Revealed in a new teaser for the upcoming racing title, the feature uses audio tones of varying direction and frequency to cue the player to accelerate, decelerate, and corner. The player demonstrating the feature says they can really learn tracks from audio cues alone as they navigate Suzuka in a Ford Focus touring car. And y'know what, he shows himself making it through the tight chicane at the end of the back straight—putting him above many of the players I've encountered in Forza online.
Let's all acknowledge how big of a boon this is: this feature will let people who have never been able to race cars in any form before—and others who haven't since developing vision problems—experience the unique thrill that is motorsport. It's easy to imagine this accessibility feature forming the foundation for club racing leagues for blind people, too, and bringing new fans into the fold sheerly by paving the path for them.
Provided it's well-implemented, that is. The previous Forza Motorsport title botched the implementation of track limits and penalties in such a way that made the game, at times, frustrating to play due to overly conservative track limits. Many players have also been frustrated at the series' lack of innovation over the last few titles.
But y'know what, between these and the enterprising driving controls used by quadriplegic Indycar team owner Sam Schmidt, it's clear motorsport (or at least a version) is more accessible than most people could have guessed. I'm already bookmarking a search for reaction videos because I'm a sappy S.O.B. like that.
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