Driving Blind With Forza Motorsport
In a recent episode of Double Tap, hosts Steven Scott and Shaun Preece had the pleasure of interviewing Ross Minor, a blind gamer who has made significant strides in the gaming community. Minor’s passion for gaming, particularly for the groundbreaking racing game Forza Motorsport, is both inspiring and a beacon of progress in the realm of accessibility in gaming.
Forza Motorsport has been hailed as the first racing game to be fully accessible to blind gamers from the ground up. Minor, who enjoyed racing games before losing his sight, expressed his excitement about the game’s release. He had the opportunity to playtest Forza Motorsport and has been eagerly awaiting the moment he could share his experiences with the world.
The game’s accessibility features are a marvel, using a plethora of sound cues to guide blind players through the tracks. The car engine sound, for instance, follows the optimal racing line, panning left or right in the stereo field to indicate the player’s position relative to the line. Additional cues, such as beeps for track limits and approaching turns, as well as a higher-pitched beep to signal the end of a turn, provide the necessary feedback to navigate the game successfully.
One of the challenges that Minor pointed out is the initial sensory overload that comes with managing all the audio cues. However, the game offers customization options that allow players to adjust the volume and pitch of the beeps, as well as the verbosity of the text-to-speech feature that announces lap times and scores.
When it comes to multiplayer races, the game introduces a new layer of complexity. Unlike in single-player mode where cars can be ghosted, allowing players to drive through them, multiplayer races require players to physically navigate around other cars. This presents a fair challenge for blind players, who must rely on sound cues and the game’s physics to avoid collisions and penalties.
Minor’s experiences with Forza Motorsport on Twitch and YouTube have been met with amazement and support from both sighted and blind gamers. Despite the vocal minority who oppose accessibility features in games, the majority celebrate the inclusivity that allows blind players to compete on the same level as their sighted counterparts.
During the interview, Minor also shared his preference for gaming consoles, favoring Xbox over PlayStation due to controller ergonomics and the ability to output game audio to both headphones and TV speakers simultaneously—a small but significant detail for social gaming.
Ross Minor’s online presence is robust, with content that spans gaming reviews, advocacy for accessibility, and a personal journey through the world of video games. His website, rossminor.com/links, serves as a hub for all his platforms, and he can be found under the handle Ross Minor on most social media and streaming services.