I see this all the time. You’ll have a game that seems perfectly accessible to just about anybody. Simple gameplay, well-explained mechanics, and intuitive level design.
And then you get a sound-based game mechanic.
Right there and then, you’ve made it all but impossible for deaf people to play your game. Without any kind of visual on-screen prompt, a deaf person will have a large amount of trouble figuring out what they’re supposed to do. In some cases it may be flat-out impossible for them to complete the challenge presented to them, which may make it impossible for them to finish the game.
Now imagine that for a moment. You’ve just dumped possibly 60 dollars or more onto a game, a game which you can’t beat because the developers didn’t bother to make it accessible. Wouldn’t that suck? And yet deaf people go through this all the time.
And it’s hardly limited to game mechanics. Games without subtitles or on-screen tutorial text also present a problem. Examples include games like the first Assassin’s Creed, which did not have subtitles. In cases like these, if you are unable to hear the dialogue or can’t make it out, it’s basically impossible to do what the game asks of you.
And it’s not that hard to avoid this. Sites like http://gameaccessibilityguidelines.com describe ways to ensure that games are accessible to deaf players, such as ensuring that no essential information is delivered through audio alone or making sure that supplementary auditory information is replicated visually. For video games to become more popular among mainstream audiences, developers need to make sure that the games they make are accessible to everyone.