5 Video Games That Screw Over the Color Blind
Can you see the message in the above picture? If it just looks like a culture culled from Kesha's underpants, then you are part of the 10 percent of the population of the planet who is color blind. If you can't see it, the message reads the same as what some of the video game designers are saying: "Fuck the color blind."
Now, we found out we were color blind at an early age when we failed a test in the second grade that involved a color puzzle, a fail grade that frankly we are still mad about 25 years later. Since then, we've stuck to black clothes, memorized what order the traffic signals light up and sulked about how we're never going to fly a space shuttle.
Hey, at least we can play video games, right? This is the point in the technology that many environments are indistinguishable from real life except by the number of zombies. Well, you'd think so, but there have been some examples of just blatant hatred against our particular disability.
Art Attack just finished the original BioShock, and frankly it's one of the best games we've ever owned. We were just getting ready to trade in part 1 for part 2 when we ran across an article that ensured we wouldn't be able to play the damn thing.
One of the recurring elements of the game series is hacking the security systems to attack enemies instead of you. Not only does this eliminate a threat, sometimes it can literally be the difference between life and death. In the first game, this was accomplished with a pipe game, but in BioShock 2 you have to use shades of red and green to accomplish the hack, two colors that the majority of color blind people have the most problems with.
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Zuma is an online game where you use a frog to fire colored stone balls at a steady advancing stream in hopes of eliminating them by arranging three of the same color in a row. The game is murderously addictive and extremely fun. It's also very, very difficult to play if you're color blind.
Obviously, any game that involves matching colors is going to be hard for us, but Zuma had the saving feature of giving the balls their own pattern in addition to color. However, whenever a ball would turn into a special item, with the power to reverse the direction of the stream, for instance, it would lose the pattern, making matching the colors much more difficult. On the later levels when every shot counts, these power-ups may be the only thing that can save you, and by matching the wrong colors you're compounding your mistake tenfold.
Props to the makers of Zuma, though. They've added a color blind mode to Zuma Blitz!
Of course, Red vs. Blue isn't a video game. It's a machinima using characters and settings from Halo to put out one of the funniest Web series ever made. If you've ever had someone come up to you and ask you what your zombie plan is, they were quoting Red vs. Blue, or they're, you know, insane.
We've always had a real hard time with the series, though, because we simply cannot tell the characters apart. They all wear identical powersuits, differing only in shade. Sure, there's no problem telling them apart by voices when it's someone like Sarge, whose distinctive Southern drawl makes him stand out, but when it comes to others, like Griff and Simmons, we start getting lost. Eventually we got tired of trying to piece together the plot without knowing who was doing what and gave up watching the show.
The Christmas we gave the Girlfriend With One F the ring that made her the Fiancée With One F, she responded by going out and buying us a PS2 and a copy of The Hobbit (The irony was not lost on either of us). That was six years ago and we are still trying to beat the damned thing because we are going to fight Smaug if we have to smooth the forehead wrinkles off every Klingon in the galaxy!
The game is fantastic, truly one of the most underrated games of the last generation of systems. We love it, but it has some severe color problems. The first manifested itself by being so dark we couldn't play it on the TV we owned at the time. No problem until you get to Lake Town, where nighttime jumping puzzles ultimately made us throw it down.
Later, after we got the plasma TV, we tried again. However, like BioShock 2 it has a minigame that is color based. Many chests require a timed series of puzzles to unlock, with failure resulting in damage or poisoning, and also like BioShock 2, they involve distinguishing red from green.
It's not a big deal. You can buy keys to bypass the games, and a lot of the chests aren't really necessary to open, but it's still an annoying kick in the balls.
Capcom decided that they would try their hands at a puzzle game starring characters from Street Fighter and Darkstalkers. The result is a cross between Dr. Mario and Columns, and it is a lot of fun to play. You pick your character, and as you progress in the puzzle they throw out their distinctive moves against your opponent.
Once again, if you're color blind it can be very, very difficult. The reds are deep enough that you don't confuse them with the greens, but the greens and yellows are soft enough to be confused with each other like in Zuma.
So in closing, dear video game designers, we wish you'd keep this kind of thing in mind. There are enough people like us in the world that if we started our own country, it would be more populous than the United States, and would definitely have a less ridiculous terror alert system. There's nothing wrong with a color matching game, but you might try adding some shapes or patterns, or maybe giving the lesser used hues like orange and gray a chance to get in the game.
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