Racing game Forza Horizon 5 will soon have full American and British Sign Language support for the in-game cutscenes. In a new video, the game developers behind Forza weigh in on the importance of accessibility, and deaf and hard of hearing gamers share their experiences with the new feature.
For many deaf individuals, English is their second language and reading captions adds an extra hurdle to the experience.
“We should be able to access the same story beats and narrative components,” explains Cameron Akitt, an accessibility consultant, in a blog post for Microsoft. “Otherwise, we’re only getting half the picture and not getting the full experience. Including sign language is about enabling more deaf and hard of hearing people to have ownership over their gaming experience.”
The new feature will include a sign-language interpreter on screen during the cutscenes of Forza Horizon 5. It goes beyond just having an actor on the screen; the developers at Playground made sure to include native speakers of the languages in order to help convey the exact nuances of the spoken words via sign languages. Additionally, the popup video of the interpreter can be moved around the screen and the color of the background adjusted for the player’s preferences.
“It really sets a precedent; it sets a bar. It’s very much like new territory because if a company like Playground can do this, why can’t other big studios go to the same lengths?” Akitt says.
The update will roll out on March 1. For more information, check out the blog post.