The Outer Worlds no colourblind mode

Following this fascinating design choice, resident Courier Gaming blind boy Alex Darbyshire explores the implications of colourblind modes in games

Alex Darbyshire
19th November 2019
Image: IGDB
Since the advent of video gaming, colour has been a key factor in the visual conveyance of both game mechanics and story. Even something as red explosive barrels rely on our subconscious understanding of colour to be effective features of game design.

But, as many colourblind people would assure, colour is an incredibly subjective medium for the exposition of a game's experience. My red might not be the same as your red, for example.

The Outer Worlds development team appear to be keenly aware of this. In a recent tweet from Obsidian Entertainment developer Josh Sawyer revealed an interesting design decision, that The Outer Worlds did not ship with a colourblind mode. This is because, Sawyer's tweet goes, the game was "designed to be playable without color information".

What this means in terms of game design is that The Outer Worlds compensates for this lack of colour with other, more concrete visual indicators. The developers have made all of these distinct for people of various abilities.

...both of the directors of The Outer Worlds, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, both have forms of colourblindness, with Cain's condition making his vision close to monochromatic.

What was Obsidian's motivation for this bold choice? Well, it so happens that both of the directors of The Outer Worlds, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, both have forms of colourblindness, with Cain's condition making his vision close to monochromatic. It seems that what was convenient for the directors was also convenient for the game's accessibility at the same time.

As someone who has colour-deficiency, I personally think this is a fascinating decision. I've always appreciated games that include a mode for us protanopes, as well as other forms of colour-deficiency.

Battlefield and Titanfall always boast a wealth of helpful colour alterations in their options menus.

EA have always been excellent in this regard, with Battlefield and Titanfall always boasting a wealth of helpful colour alterations in their options menus. Other games have cottoned on to these features in recent years, such as Grand Theft Auto V and Overwatch. 

It's refreshing to see the trend suddenly turned on its head with a design choice like this.

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AUTHOR: Alex Darbyshire
Gaming Editor, part-time human.

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