Expert Review: Among Us
Evaluating accessibility in the popular indie game Among Us
Player avatars in Among Us when seen by people with colour vision deficiencies such as Protoanomaly and Tritanopia
Writer and Researcher
Adobe Illustrator, Among Us game on mobile, Medium
Expert Review, Colour Theory, Literature Review, Game Design, Mockups
"Among Us" is an indie multiplayer online game involving teamwork, deception, and deduction. Players collaborate as crew members on a spaceship, completing tasks while identifying impostors trying to sabotage and eliminate others.
Its popularity during the pandemic surged due to its social nature, providing a way for people to connect virtually and engage in engaging interactions despite physical distancing restrictions. The game's simple mechanics and suspenseful gameplay contributed to its rapid rise.
I conducted a comprehensive case study addressing color blindness in the game, analyzing how color-dependent identification impacts gameplay for color-blind individuals. This review serves as an expert exploration of the game's user experience, shedding light on the significance of inclusive design in the gaming industry.
So, what was the problem?
Color-dependent design, while visually engaging, can inadvertently create barriers for individuals with color blindness. The reliance on color cues as primary identifiers in games like "Among Us" can lead to confusion and hinder gameplay for players with different types of color vision deficiencies.
This exclusionary approach not only affects user experience but also perpetuates an environment where certain players are disadvantaged due to a lack of accessibility consideration. Recognizing this issue highlights the necessity for designers to adopt more inclusive approaches that accommodate diverse abilities, fostering a more equitable and enjoyable gaming experience for all players.
Who was our target demographic?
The targeted audience for this expert review would primarily be UX/UI designers, game developers, and professionals in the field of user experience design. Additionally, individuals involved in game accessibility, color theory, and anyone interested in creating more inclusive digital experiences would also benefit from the insights provided in this review.
What was our plan?
The review began by introducing the significance of color blindness in game design, with a specific focus on the game "Among Us." This laid the foundation for exploring how color-based identification might create accessibility challenges for players.
Color Vision Deficiency (CVD) Statistics:
Statistical data regarding the prevalence of color blindness was presented, underlining its relevance in user demographics. This data-driven approach highlighted the potential impact on a substantial number of players.
The article provided an overview of the game "Among Us," emphasizing its core gameplay mechanic of using colors for player identification. It pointed out the challenge this creates for color-blind individuals, setting the stage for the subsequent analysis.
Gameplay screenshot showing the potential confusion that occurs when players mix colours with their avatar names
Types of CVD and Gameplay Impact:
Different types of color blindness were elucidated, accompanied by explanations of how each type affects color perception. This understanding helped establish the potential gameplay hurdles faced by color-blind players.
Through the utilization of Coblis, I recreated the game's color palette and visually simulated how avatars appear to individuals with various types of color blindness. This visual representation offered a tangible perspective on the challenges faced by these players.
Player avatars in Among Us shown for people with full colour vision (left), and simulated via Coblis for people with colour vision deficiencies such as Tritanopia and Deuteranopia
Accessibility Solutions and Initiatives:
I ended by proposing potential solutions to enhance color-blind accessibility, such as using symbols or color names. I also mentioned the developers' efforts, including the introduction of a color-blind mode in the beta version, reflecting a commitment to addressing the issue.
Accessibility solutions shown as mockups: using symbol identifiers (left), or displaying colour with the player name (right)
How did that turn out?
The expert review delivered a robust exploration of color blindness's impact on the interactive game "Among Us." Through meticulous analysis, practical visualizations, and innovative solutions, it championed the imperative of inclusive design in elevating user experience.
Who else knows?
The article was picked up by the publication UX Collective (with over 460k readers), and gained subsequent recognition and applause from nearly 2,000 readers on Medium. Moreover, its dissemination in multiple languages underscored its global resonance, enriching the dialogue on accessibility and design across diverse communities. With over 100,000 views, this review has galvanized designers, developers, and enthusiasts, fostering collective progress towards a more equitable and engaging gaming sphere!
Challenges we faced
One notable hurdle was distilling complex concepts of color vision deficiency and its impact on gameplay into concise and comprehensible explanations for a design audience. Ensuring the accuracy of the visual simulations and their representation of color vision deficiency required careful attention to detail. Additionally, striking the right balance between technical insights and user-friendly language was crucial to engage both experts and those new to the topic.
What did we learn?
I gained a profound appreciation for the intricate relationship between design and accessibility. Delving into the nuances of color blindness and its impact on gameplay shed light on the real challenges that individuals with visual impairments face. This experience emphasized the significance of considering diverse user needs in every facet of design, from color choices to interface elements. Moreover, witnessing the widespread engagement and recognition the article received highlighted the growing awareness within the design community about the importance of creating inclusive digital experiences.
What’s gonna happen next?
The article was well received, and InnerSloth, the developers of Among Us, also addressed colour blindness in Tasks by adding symbol identifiers for colour-dependent tasks within the game!