Marvel’s Avengers will feature a superhero with a disability

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The newest member of Marvel’s Avengers was motion captured by accessibility advocate Cherry Thompson.

The video game industry’s relationship with disability can best be described as “rough.” It’s often adversarial, with gamers and developers bemoaning accessibility options as going against “how the game was meant to played.” Marvel’s Avengers, developed by Crystal Dynamics, looks to buck this trend in more ways than one.

Crystal Dynamics released a blog post this week detailing a conversation with Senior Community & Social Media Manager Meghan Marie and game designer Mariah Robinson. The pair discussed the studio’s efforts to make the game more accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities. The most significant move is the inclusion of a non-playable superhero who uses a wheelchair. The character’s name is Cerise. Accessibility specialist Cherry Thompson, who currently works on accessibility for Ubisoft, provided idle motion capture.

The character’s inclusion is the big announcement, but Crystal Dynamics went into further detail about the game itself. What started with a “‘rogue’ group of passionate allies” soon blossomed into a studio-wide effort. The studio received an APX (Accessible Player Experience) certification from Ablegamers, which furthered their commitment to accessibility.

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The developers revealed the game will include accessibility options tailored toward several kinds of disabilities. High-contrast UI, fully remappable controls and full subtitles were announced in the blog post. Real-word struggles with accessibility were also discussed; the blog post mentions that the game’s booth at E3 2019 was wheelchair accessible. Making a physical space wheelchair accessible is a huge task and Crystal Dynamics should be commended for walking the walk on accessibility.

Crystal Dynamics acknowledged this isn’t nearly enough. Marie stated “Accessibility is an ongoing pursuit, not a finite goal.” She also said the studio plans to continue rolling accessibility improvements after the game’s September 4 launch.

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Accessibility shouldn’t have to start with a “‘rogue’ group of passionate allies.” Crystal Dynamics’ attempts at providing accessibility for so many players should inspire other developers to make official efforts to include accessibility in future games. Hopefully Cerise is playable in the sequel.