Redwood City-based video game maker Electronic Arts (EA) on Friday announced significant additional patent investment in the company’s so-called Accessibility Patent Pledge, which aims to further diversity and inclusivity through disability and accessibility. The announcement is meant to coincide with this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, happening this weekend.
“Innovation, creativity, and inclusivity are fundamental to who we are. When we launched the Accessibility Patent Pledge last year, we were humbled by the positive feedback we received, both from the industry and our players. Everyone at EA truly believes that nothing should come between our players and our shared love of video games, and so we’re pleased to be able to keep adding more of our latest pioneering accessibility solutions to the pledge,” Chris Bruzzo, chief experience officer at EA, said in a statement. “When an idea from one of our incredible teams has the potential to help reduce or eliminate accessibility barriers and empower our players, we want to get it out there for others to use, even if we’ve not used it yet. This sharing of ideas and innovation for the good of our video gaming family is at the heart of our Accessibility Patent Pledge.”
EA’s Pledge launched in August of last year and is designed, the company said, to “provides competitors and developers with free access to accessibility-related patents and technology as part of EA’s ongoing commitment to positive play and to reducing or eliminating as many barriers to access as possible in video games.”
Today’s additions to the Pledge focus on how gamers with disabilities can better engage with their content. EA has added a machine learning system and haptic feedback technologies that are designed to boost the in-game experience for gamers through heightened sensory integration and more. Moreover, the artificial intelligence and machine learning tech will allow developers the ability to configure a controller’s settings so as to be optimized for a person’s unique needs and tolerances. And there’s also virtual joystick tech, currently utilized in the FIFA Mobile soccer title, that EA said moves based on the positioning of a person’s thumb on screen, This is helpful for those with certain motor conditions which prevent them from having total control of movement of their appendages.
Beyond the more technically-driven patents, EA also is open-sourcing its Fonttik tool. Fonttik automatically recognizes text in a game and determines whether it meets specified readability criteria, and can adjust on-the-fly if necessary. This obviously is a boon for gamers who have low vision, for example.
Today’s news of EA’s reaffirmed commitment to its Accessibility Pledge comes a year after the company announced a ping-based system for its popular Apex Legends game, which allow players to communicate with each other via simple button presses. That technology has evolved to also help adjust the colors and brightness of screens to help people with various types of light sensitivities.
More information on EA’s commitment to accessibility can be found on the company’s Accessibility Portal webpage.