By Jared Newman | Friday, February 12, 2010 at 7:49 pm
When I was in college, my buddies brought an old Nintendo Entertainment System to the dorm hall, and nightly matches of the primitive hockey game Blades of Steel ensued. But when my best pal stepped up to the controller, certain combinations of teams were off-limits; his red-green colorblindness often made it too difficult to distinguish between the game’s two-tone uniforms.
Now, an aspect of the newly released Bioshock 2 has colorblind gamers furious. They say the game’s hacking segments — minigames that allow players to overthrow mechanical enemies for a tactical advantage — are nearly impossible. When hacking, a cursor slides back and forth along a pattern of colors, and the player must press a button to stop the cursor on the correct color. The problem for red-green colorblind gamers is that landing on green completes the hack, but landing on red hurts the player and triggers an alarm.
In other words, if you’re colorblind, it’s impossible to distinguish between good and bad. Check out Negative Gamer’s comparison after running a screenshot through a color contrast analyzer. Players with deuteranopia (6 percent of men, 0.1 percent of women) or protanopia (1 percent of men, 0.01 percent of women) will have a tough time hacking. Also, the 0.01 percent of players with tritanopia, a type of blue-yellow color blindness, will have trouble distinguishing between a successful hack and an extra bonus; not as critical, but still worth noting.
Bioshock 2’s not alone — see this feature by Destructoid’s Anthony Burch on the troubles of being a colorblind gamer — but this is certainly one of the peskier cases in recent memory. Developers needn’t constantly watch themselves to make sure they’re not mixing red and green, but in cases of straight-up color matching, they should know to include some other type of queue. At least in Blades of Steel, the difference between teams was only cosmetic.