Street Fighter x the Visually Impaired

Accessibility and gaming

Sound in video games isn’t merely about immersive reality. It can be a matter of life and death — for the player characters, that is, especially the ones operated by visually impaired gamers. The current beta version of Street Fighter 6, an update of the venerable franchise that originated as a 1987 arcade favorite, apparently has exceptionally inclusive accessibility options. Shown here is one of several in-game menu pages that allow for customizing the controls. “For visually impaired players,” writes Chris Moyse of, “Street Fighter 6 seemingly offers a custom sound deck, that not only offers up spoken signals for the game’s menu system and select screens but also features fully customizable sound options for the fight itself. Players can adjust the balance and sound applied to all manner of in-game commands — from accurately ascertaining distance, to whether a strike has connected or been blocked, Drive Gauge gain/burn, even when a player performs a jump attack, with alternate sounds if it ‘crossed-up’ the opponent.”

The image above is a screenshot I took from footage posted on Twitter by @_REMless that was a source for Moyse’s article. A reply to the initial tweet reads: “As a totally blind person who loves the Street Fighter series, I think this is a great step forwards. The only thing missing would be voiced spoken menus.” Video gaming for the visually impaired is a real thing, and its ongoing development has ramifications for future interfaces in our increasingly technologically mediated world. (That’s a phrase I use a lot, and that I see variations of frequently in my reading. I sometimes wonder if it’ll ever get shortened to something like OITMW. Perhaps there’s already slang for the underlying phenomena. I learn most of my slang from words I fail to get right in the New York Times Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee.)

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