More so than almost any other medium, virtual reality games are a transformative experience. You can see someone play a VR title on YouTube, but until you’ve had the chance to step into that world for yourself, you won’t get the full experience. Unfortunately, between things like the price of hardware and motion sickness, there are many barriers to people enjoying VR. But Facebook is taking a step in the right direction with the introduction of what it calls Virtual Reality Checks (VRCs). They’re technical recommendations that touch on various aspects of designing a VR title, including interactions and movement.
The recommendations are just that: recommendations. Developers don’t need to implement every single one in their games and experiences, but Facebook “strongly” suggests they support as many as is feasible. The company published documentation that provides examples of what it considers leading accessible design to help studios get started. It also shared a video that details best practices. Last but not least, it worked with accessibility advocates in the XR community to create a resource specifically for mixed reality developers. “Our goal is to encourage developers to think seriously about to make their software more accessible,” the company said.
Gaming has seen a flourishing of more accessible design in recent years. One recent example is The Last of Us Part II, which won accolades for all the accessibility-minded features Naughty Dog built into the game. In all, there are some 60 options designed to help people, including those with limited to no sight or hearing, experience and enjoy the game. Still, the industry has a long way to go, but initiatives like Facebook’s new VRCs can help it move forward.