Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm. It’s been downloaded over 100 million times and has generated over $250 million in revenue. It’s encouraged millions of people to get outdoors and explore the world around them, but what about people with disabilities? Able-bodied people have no problem wandering about to find PokéStops and Gyms and to catch Pokémon, but people with disabilities have it harder. Should the game be adjusted for them?
Yes – everyone should be included
There are all sorts of disabilities that can prevent people from getting the most out of Pokémon GO – the main one, of course, is mobility impairment. The basic premise of the game is that you explore the world around you to catch Pokémon and the main group that this seemingly excluded is people who have limited mobility. People who find it hard to get around are at a disadvantage because they’re simply physically unable to cover as much ground as able-bodied people. And yet, they can’t help it. Surely adjustments could be made so people with limited mobility and other disabilities don’t have to travel around as much to enjoy the game? Maybe disabled people could use Google Street View and have their travels count, as opposed to travelling around the real world? Sure, it isn’t the same as exploring the outside world, but it sticks to the game’s original idea and makes sure disabled people don’t just get everything handed to them on a plate. If adjustments are going to be made, there are two problems to do with this: deciding how to adjust the game for different disabilities and verifying that people who claim to have disabilities are actually disabled. If adjustments are going to be introduced, it wouldn’t be right for able-bodied people to abuse the system and claim to be disabled when they’re not. Niantic should at least be making steps to make the game more inclusive.
No – not every game can appeal to everyone
It is a shame that people with impaired mobility and other disabilities might not be able to get as much from Pokémon GO, but should Niantic really start making adjustments to cater for disabled people? You could argue that the game should be left as it is because – to put it bluntly – there will never be a video game that caters for everyone’s needs. Video games by their very nature aren’t suitable for blind people – even though blind people can still manage to play them, they don’t get the full gaming experience simply because of their inability to see. People with any sort of impairment might have to miss out on things because of their impairment and this is a harsh reality that people need to face. Yes, Pokémon GO isn’t exactly suitable for disabled players, yet instead of wanting a special disabled version, surely it’s better for disabled people to try their best to play the normal version? Many disabled people can still enjoy the game and while they might not be able to get as much out of it as able-bodied people, surely the fact they can still play it means the game is inclusive? The game wouldn’t be the same if it was adjusted for players because its core concept is people stepping outside and catching Pokémon in the real world.
What do you think?
This is a question that’s surely going to divide opinion and is probably going to be asked a lot more over the coming weeks. Many would argue that adjustments can be made to the game so disabled people can get more from it. Many would argue the game should be left as it is and that disabled people should just get from the game what they can. What do you think?