Video games are a supremely complex form of entertainment.
Precision, speed, thought puzzles, no end of systems to learn and understand — how “well” one grasps or masters these things is as relative as it gets. And there are obviously mechanical, physical considerations when you’re playing with a controller or mouse.
No two people are going to experience a game in quite the same way.
So when a title like Demon’s Souls refuses to offer difficulty settings or an accessibility mode — or when Wolfenstein implies that the player is a helpless child for wanting to dial things back to a level one might describe as “normal” — developers contribute to a larger culture of ableism.
At best, they’re being dismissive toward a large portion of their (potential) audience; at worst, they’re enabling the various forms of violence that folks with disabilities face all too often.
In a new interview with Game Informer, Bluepoint creative director Gavin Moore completely shrugs off the idea that Demon’s Souls should be more accessible.
“There are no difficulty options in Demon’s Souls. And there shouldn’t be,” Moore said. “I think the original challenge is fair.”
But there’s more to the conversation than that, and has been for a long time.
In another new interview, published by Polygon, Moore also said, “I do hear it a lot: ‘Demon’s Souls? That game’s really hard; I’m just not going to play.’ And I think you’re really missing out if you don’t play this PlayStation classic.”
As AbleGamers COO Steven Spohn points out, “Some people literally cannot play it. Accessibility can exist simultaneously without harming the experience of people who do not need those options.”
“Just a straight-up statement from Bluepoint Games saying we don’t want players with disabilities to experience our game,” writes Kyle “OneHandMostly,” a Twitch streamer with cerebral palsy.
Kit Harrison, a QA lead at Elite: Dangerous developer Frontier, called Moore’s comments “elitist gatekeeping nonsense.” Ultimately, I’m inclined to agree.
Demon’s Souls launches on the PS5 November 12.