Electronic Arts, a leader in digital interactive entertainment, continues to promote inclusive and accessible video games through the public release of a user-friendly light flash sensitivity analysis tool. In addition, the company promises to make public four more accessibility-related video game patents that help remove in-game barriers for players.
The light flash sensitivity analysis tool, called IRIS, was developed by EA as part of its ongoing commitment to “Positive Play. The tool automatically analyzes and identifies frames in videos that could potentially affect players who are sensitive to light flashes. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 50 million people worldwide are affected by light flash epilepsy, with five million diagnosed each year.
Created with accessibility in mind, IRIS provides analytics that can be quickly understood by those developing visual digital content. The tool makes it easier to check content for flashes of light or rapidly changing spatial patterns. This also means that developers have the opportunity to test content early in the development process for potential issues with light flash sensitivity. IRIS has already been used for certain content within titles such as EA SPORTS™ Madden NFL 24, EA SPORTS FC™ 24 and EA SPORTS™ WRC. The company has plans to expand its use to a wider range of visual content in the future. The code for the software can be found here.
In addition to making IRIS publicly available, EA is also making technology from four other patents available for royalty-free use. In doing so, the company is building on its patent promise to improve accessibility. The pledge, first talked about in August 2021, provides competitors and developers with free access to accessibility-related patents and technology. It is part of EA’s ongoing commitment to “Positive Play” and reducing or eliminating as many accessibility barriers in video games as possible. The four patents being released are:
- Automated acquisition of player control – A system that automatically detects when a player stops playing and converts the player-controlled character into a system-controlled character that adapts to the player’s play style. This technology can help people with disabilities (e.g., motor, cognitive, visual) when they cannot immediately or adequately interact with a game.
- Adaptive tutorial system for games – This intelligent and adaptive system provides players with guidance on how to perform tasks and techniques in the game in a way that is tailored to each player’s abilities or playing style. This technology can assist people with disabilities by providing personalized guidance specifically designed to reduce the specific obstacles they encounter when playing the game.
- Route navigation system – This patent was first used in Mirror’s Edge™ Catalyst and relates to a system that generates navigation routes and displays navigation guides to guide players through large and complex game environments. This technology benefits cognitive and visual accessibility and supports players who have difficulty navigating through game worlds.
- Animated and personalized coach for video games. – A system that provides an animated and personalized coach that gives players insights both inside and outside the game to improve their performance. The animation of the coach makes it easier for players to understand and apply the insights. Finally, it contributes to increasing players’ enjoyment of the game.
Kerry Hopkins, SVP, Global Affairs at EA, states: “Our patent promise is based on the principle that everyone, regardless of background, should be able to enjoy video games. We continue to build on that promise by making our light flash sensitivity tool, IRIS, publicly available. We are also making available the use of additional patented technology that can help players with motor, cognitive, visual and/or other disabilities have a smoother gaming experience. We want to empower developers across the community to remove barriers to participation, and create safer, more inclusive, accessible and ultimately more enjoyable experiences for players around the world.”
The opening up of this technology builds on previous accessibility initiatives, including the launch of Electronic Arts’ accessibility portal. This includes more information about accessibility features in Electronic Arts’ games. It is also a place where players can voice concerns and make suggestions for improvements. Last year, EA pledged six accessibility patents, making it easier for more players to interact with a video game or device. The company has also made Fonttik publicly available. The tool automatically detects text in visual content and assesses whether it meets specified criteria for size and contrast ratio. This facilitates checking to see if text is readable for players with various visual impairments. In 2021, EA’s first accessibility patent announcement included the patented “Ping System” of Apex Legends™, which was very positively received by players.