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Electronic Arts is offering free use of five patents it’s been awarded for technology to help people with visual, hearing and other disabilities play video games. It’ll also freely offer code it’s created that helps adjust games for color blindness, brightness and contrast issues. The initiative marks the first time the game maker has offered its accessibility technology free to anyone who’d want to use them.
The company’s announcement Tuesday coincides with its being awarded a patent for theit built for its 2018 competitive online shooting game Apex Legends. In the game, players alert one another to important information by aiming their character’s gun at it and then hitting a special button. If they’re pointing at a piece of land, they alert teammates to a certain location. If they’re pointed at an enemy when hitting the button, then the team is alerted about an enemy’s position. And it’s all done without needing to chat with voice and through microphones.
“We’ve chosen to patent these ideas because they can make a real difference to improving the accessibility of video games – whether ours or others,” Chris Bruzzo, an EA executive vice president who oversees commercial efforts, marketing and “positive play,” said in an email. “By sharing these accessibility patents, we hope to encourage and support other developers to do the same.”
EA’s move is the latest way tech and gaming companies are increasingly trying to make their products easier to use by wider groups of people. Over the past few years, companies ranging fromto , and even have created new features and products to help people with a variety of needs.
In the game world in particular, companies like Sony have increasingly put an emphasis on adding features tomaking them easier for people with disabilities to play. Microsoft, for its part, developed the Xbox Adaptive Controller, with inputs and software designed to make it easy for people .
In EA’s case, it’s allowing free use of its accessibility-related patents and hoping to encourage similar cooperation across the tech industry. “When you patent a technology or idea, you publish technical information that would otherwise have never been accessible to the public,” Bruzzo added. “This equips developers with the know-how to advance the state of the art in game development.”
Aside from its ping-patent, EA said it’s also making available patents that help with color vision issues and contrast ratio and hearing issues.