God of War and Celeste Developers Champion Accessibility Options Amidst “Easy Mode” Debate

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As the debate around easy mode rages on, a pair of talented developers have had their say on accessibility in gaming.

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or two, From Software’s latest Sekiro came out and ever since the games industry has been talking about whether it should have an ‘Easy Mode’ or not, which itself is a loaded phrase.

Many think that it would harm the artistic vision that From had set out for the game, whereas most believe it would just let more players access the game, especially those who are less able. This is a win-win for everyone surely, but many are shouting ‘Git Gud’ and the conversation has devolved into chaos.

To break through some of the mud, Cory Barlog and Matt Thorsten have had their say on the matter, championing accessibility options.
Barlog (who you may know as the director of the excellent God of War) made a very poignant point, stating that “Accessibility has never and will never be a compromise to my vision.”

A number of recent AAA titles have echoed this sentiment. Marvel’s Spider-Man, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Uncharted 4 all had a suite of accessibility options and customizable controls that allowed players to get past tricky puzzles that required difficult hand movements. Features to help colourblind and hard of hearing players have also featured heavily in the past few years.

Outside of the AAA bubble, Celeste’s Matt Thorson also tweeted his thoughts about Sekiro and accessibility. If you’ve played indie darling Celeste, you’ll know it has a genius assist mode that you can turn on at any point to gain invincibility and infinite stamina.

Matt made some clever propositions for a Sekiro Assist mode, where players could tone down combat speed and become invisible whilst sneaking. Thorson also noted that the mode could be “activated only from the main menu, per-save file, so it’s invisible to people playing without it.”
Clearly, an easy mode wouldn’t hurt if it was totally optional. It would ensure more players can experience the excellence of Sekiro, which can only be a good thing.

As Steve Spohn of AbleGamers so succinctly states on Twitter “Your enjoyment of a single player game is not affected by how another person chooses to experience that same videogame.” Let’s put empathy first. Games are for everyone.