Second Channel


Design Problem:

Players are unable or unreliably able to take in information from the game and/or its interfaces via a particular modality, and cannot rely solely on it for information.

Design Solution:

Players can select additional channels of information via different modalities so they can reliably take in information from the game or its interfaces.

Related Patterns:

APX Design Drivers:

The above design problem can occur in the following contexts:

Players who are blind or have low vision may need an alternative to or enhancement of visual information through audio or haptic presentation.

Players who are Deaf or have low hearing may need an alternative to or enhancement of speech and non-speech sounds through visual or haptic presentation.

Players who are in noisy environments may need an alternative for audio information that they can access through visual or haptic presentation.

Examples of this Pattern in Action

Vibration indicators for kicking in Madden 2018


In Madden 2018, players can turn on the Visual Assist mode provided in the game menus. Part of these visual assists is the Kick Meter for kick off and punting which has rumble events attached to it. Players can successfully kick by tracking the different rumble indicators through the kick meter progression. A double vibration indicates that the kick meter moves, and then there is a second vibration indicates the player can select max power.  A third rumble indicates max accuracy. A blind or low-vision player can use these rumbles and the pauses in between in order to select the power and accuracy they prefer for the kick. The pauses between the rumbles decrease as the difficulty level of the game is tuned higher.

Captioning for key ambient/environmental sounds in Left 4 Dead 2


Left 4 Dead 2 features a setting that enables full captioning for the game. In addition to the game’s dialogue, this setting adds alerts of incoming attacks, noises that delineate special enemy types, story-related environmental cues, and specific player actions for all players (i.e. an exploding pipebomb, melee weapon hits, etc.) to the subtitling. Full captioning enhances the ways in which the player may perceive the game’s events. This feature facilitates an overall understanding of what is occurring in the game’s digital environment. By including this full captioning feature, players are provided with an additional way to manage their awareness and thus increase the likelihood of improved performance.

Of note, “Full Captioning” is a separate feature from Left 4 Dead 2’s “Subtitle Only” option. With “Subtitle Only”, players who may become overwhelmed by the details provided with “Full Captioning” still have the option to have dialogue only, or no captions at all.  In this way, players are given the option to choose what kind of captioning is preferred for their respective experience.

Visual indicators for directional audio in Fortnite (Battle Royale)


Fortnite Battle Royale allows players to enable a setting called “Visualize Sound Effects.” This turns on a “sound ring” that appears around the player character and provides the player with a visual representation of the nearby directional sound. When movement from other players is occurring close to the player character, the sound ring displays a white-colored curved line with footstep icons in the direction of the other online player. In situations where there is combat (gunfire or pickaxe melee attacks on other players or structures) occurring around the player, a red-colored curved line will appear around the player with a flame-like icon in the direction of the skirmish. Additionally, as the player character increases in proximity to the skirmish, the red sound indicator will display directional audio feedback from the in-game environment. When the player character is near a loot chest, an amber-colored curve with a treasure icon will appear around the player in the direction of the chest. The further the player character is from the previously described indicators, the opaquer the indicators will be.

Distinct sound effects for distinct moves in the Street Fighter series


In the Street Fighter series of games, starting with Street Fighter II, first released in 1991, and continuing through modern Street Fighter games, there are distinct sounds for each attack move that players can execute with their fighters.  Each attack can be identified by sound, and thus players can use these sounds to plan defense or counter attacks if they memorize them.

When these distinct sounds are combined with stereo separation of sound effects – the sounds from the fighter on the left playing in the left speaker, and the sounds from the fighter on the right playing in the right speaker (an example of Distinguish This From That) – the audio in Street Fighter allows players with significant visual disabilities to play, as well as compete at all levels.

Spoken dialogue with text captioning in quests in Diablo 3


In Diablo 3, when a player interacts with an NPC about a quest, a caption box appears with the text for the spoken dialogue of the NPC.  This caption box has a black border to help distinguish it from the background, large bold text, and two indicators of who is speaking in the scene.