Posted by Ken McDonnell @Ken
Now Loading's sentimental Irishman. I can't stop playing Overwatch, please send help.
Ken McDonnell

I'm color blind. It's rather strange to call it that, though. There's no actual blindness involved with this deficiency, it's simply an inability or decreased ability to see or perceive color differences.

So what does this mean for my life? Well, take a look at this.

See all the numbers inside these circles? Well I can't. Actually, I lie, I can see number 16 in the top right and number 8 in the bottom left, but that's it. The rest of them simply appear as a series of circles within a larger circle. I see no numbers, no symbols, just a lot of differently colored dots. And to be honest, that's about as impactful as this deficiency is on my day-to-day life.

Some of my friends may jest about it and I'll sometimes say something is brown when it's actually red and then have to explain why, but that's really it. Except when it comes to video games, of course.

Hi! My Name Is Ken And I'm Color Blind

Halo 4
Halo 4

I'm a gamer that likes to enjoy a product the way the developers intended. I feel like it brings me closer to the vision of the artists and allows me to fully analyze whether they've achieved something great in every aspect of the game's development. That goes for its art style and design, too.

Therefore, I'm often more keen on playing games without color blindness settings on. I want to enjoy that awful green of Fallout 4's user interface, I want to play [Star Wars: Battlefront](tag:2684021) the way DICE had intended it to be. Therefore, when I do enable a color blindness setting it feels strange for me, especially if I've watched a lot of gameplay videos before playing it myself.

Sometimes the color blind UI won't suit the game's palette and I'll be distracted during a campaign or while online, or I'll feel like I'm distancing myself from the original product. It's silly. Especially because I can't actually see the game the way the developer's intended, and never will. But in saying that, there have been certain games in my life that have demanded a change.

What Am I Looking At?

From red to...this color.
From red to...this color.

To those of you that played The Witcher 3 this image may appear strange. Geralt here is a Witcher and possesses the ability to use his heightened senses to follow scents through the air, track footprints left on the ground, or see blood stains in a clear and vibrant way. However, CD Projekt RED elected the color 'red' for this Witcher Vision, and let me tell you, there were times where I couldn't see shit.

I'd be following a scent through the air in the form of a red cloud and it would veer off into the woods and I'd suddenly have to stop. I lost it. It was often an arduous task to relocate where the cloud had gone, too. I couldn't see it in the distance and I was under the impression that RED had intended this vision to be a little more difficult in forested areas. Not the case. Everyone else could see it just fine.

Therefore these missions took me so much longer than they needed to. RED eventually released a patch for the game that featured color blindness settings, but I was basically finished with The Witcher 3 by that stage. It didn't impact on my enjoyment of the game all that much, but I definitely would have picked the color blindness option above were it available from the beginning.

Tackling Color Blindness In Game Development

That being said, I couldn't be happier with how developers are incorporating color blindness settings into their games. Above you can see such an example in Star Wars: Battlefront — DICE have been great for this in the past.

But to better understand what the three different profiles of color blindness are like, take a look at this diagram. You'll be able to perceive it better than I will.

You'd be surprised how often some people think I see in black and white when I tell them I'm color blind. Seriously. But there's actually a deficiency that renders a person unable to see colors, but that's called achromatopsia. It's also extremely rare (thankfully).

But what I have is the most common form of color blindness, deuteranomaly, which affects 3 percent of the population.

See, your eyes have three groups of cells shaped like cones that are responsible for seeing color. If all three of your cones are working perfectly, it means that you can see colors perfectly. You're also called a trichromat. You bastard. But people like my Irish self have at least one faulty cone. The faulty cone in question determines which colors you have trouble seeing.

So I have trouble distinguishing between reds, greens, browns, oranges, and some blue and purple hues. And the only thing that irritates me about this is that things like the sunset must be so much more beautiful for trichromats. And I love sunsets! Cherish those colors, people.

The Witness
The Witness

In terms of tackling color blindness in game development, there are actually tools out there for indie devs, like the ColorBlind Unity Package, which can be installed into your game and then used to tweak the visual style to suit various forms of color blindness. It's a handy tool! But larger games, like FTL, for example, have actually tailored towards the color blind very nicely by ensuring that “no essential information is conveyed by a color alone.” They've actually developed the game with the color blind in mind. Thanks, guys!

Though this wasn't the case for games like The Witness, which you can see above. There were numerous reports of individuals who couldn't actually complete puzzles on their own due to the placement of certain colors next to one another. But that's thankfully a rarity. You can get by in most AAA games with my form of color blindness just fine.

Like myself, there appear to be a ton of color blind gamers out there and our needs are being met by thoughtful game design. Hell, even eSports matches of League of Legends are broadcast with the color blindness setting enabled! It's a great way to ensure that the entire community can enjoy your game, regardless of what form of color blindness they have. Now all I need is a pair of glasses that can correct my vision so I can cry while staring at a real sunset!

Are you a color blind gamer?