Deaf Gamers Classification
We've often been asked to create a list of games that are subtitled so visitors to Deaf Gamers can quickly see which games are subtitled. I've always been loathe to do this because as you all know subtitles, although important, are not the be all and end all when it comes to making a game deaf gamer friendly. What's needed is something much more comprehensive than a list that shows which games are subtitled. After much thought we have come up with the Deaf Gamers Classification system. What's all this about then? Well read on for an introduction.
In addition to giving a game an overall rating we've previously added a small comment to the end of a review. Whilst this has been a suitable way to round off a review it provides no way to allow us to compile an informative list which allows our visitors to quickly see how useful each game is without having to trawl through every game they might be interested in. To resolve this problem we've created the Deaf Gamers Classification system. From now on every review will also receive a grade ranging from A to E. These grades will quickly show you how suitable a game is for deaf gamers as well as allow us to create a reference list which you can then use. Below you'll find an explanation of what each grade actually means.
Deaf Gamers Classification Grades
To earn an A grade a game really has to be impressive in it's provision for deaf gamers. We expect captions, subtitles and other visual clues. Colour-coded subtitles and a choice to alter the text speed (where appropriate) are features we would also consider as preferable. Not many games are going to receive the A grade unfortunately. Only Half-Life 2 springs to mind as being a game worthy of an A grade. Let's hope many developers follow Valve's excellent example.
Earning a B grade is going to be difficult. We expect the game to have subtitles for all the important dialogue and leave deaf gamers without any doubts about what needs to be done. Deaf gamers should be able to follow the games story too. Think of a B grade classification as having everything that an A grade rating would have apart from captions.
Some games aren't perfect in their provision for deaf gamers but they still allow deaf gamers to play the game without any real difficulty. Games that aren't fully subtitled (the cut scenes might not be subtitled for example but the rest of the game would provide subtitles) but don't cause any problems, except for the fact that the deaf gamer might miss out on the games story, are probably going to earn a C grade. Sports games that don't have their commentary subtitled are another example of a game that can have omissions and yet still cause no real problems for deaf gamers and as such would earn a C.
If a game has a D grade you really should think long and hard about parting with your cash for the game. The cut scenes in the game won't be subtitled or the cut scenes might be subtitled but the bulk of the in-game dialogue might not be (as was the case with Halo 3). There is also a general lack of visual feedback in such games too. Games that are subtitled but still cause the odd problem, which might deter some gamers, will also earn a D grade. You'll still be able to muddle your way through because objectives are given in text but for the most part it's more like hard work than enjoyment. There might be the odd problem with a game of this nature so it's worth reading the review to find out more information.
Red spells danger and that's exactly why the E grade icon has a red background. A game earning an E grade is just impossible for deaf gamers. In addition to the problems mentioned in the explanation for the D grade there will also be no way of knowing what your objectives are as well as important information being given only in speech. Games that rely on the ability to hear are also given an E grade. An example of this would be an adventure game that contained a puzzle where you had to listen in order to solve it. In fact with a game earning an E grade there will be so many problems that deaf gamers should just forget the game exists and move on to something else. We've seen a few games like this in the past. Let's hope we don't have to award too many of these in the future.
Well there's a guide as to what each grade represents. From now on every game will receive a Deaf Gamers Classification grade and we'll compile a table (found here) so that you can easily see which games are suitable. Presently there are no plans to go back and grade previous reviews (it would take me months of work to do this) but should the opportunity arise for me to edit old reviews to grade them then I'll add them to the list. Please remember though sometimes it's not possible to complete a game (RPG's for example that last for 50+ hours are an example of this) and that we can make the odd mistake with grading a game in this fashion. That said though I hope this grading system will prove useful to you.