Console Gaming: In-Game Text Size

In a previous post I discussed the issue of text size in console interfaces. But gaming accessibility does not end at the interface screen. In-game text size can be a large barrier for visually impaired gamers.  AbleGamers recently named Dragon Age : Origins their accessible game of the year for 2009. But for all the positive things about this game, one thing that is lacking is the option to increase text size.

When playing on a computer it is possible to download mods for many games. There is already an interface mod available for the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins that increases the font size. However, this is not something that improves the experience for console gamers. When playing Dragon Age: Origins on my Playstation 3 with a 32 inch HDTV the dialogue font is only a third of an inch tall. From 8 feet away this becomes unreadable to me.

Screen shot from Dragon Age: Origins showing the text size of dialogue options

This small text size is an issue for visually impaired gamers as well as standard definition television owners. This has been a problem for many games in the last few years including Capcom’s Dead Rising and another recent BioWare game, Mass Effect 2.

Some games have much larger font that makes them easier to read. Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon for the Wii has nice large font. On my 32 inch HDTV the upper font is an inch tall while the lower text is 0.6 inches tall. Also, the white of the letters have a slight black outline which makes them easier to read when the background is a lighter color.

Screen shot of Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobos Dungeon

Screen shot of Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon

Clearly both Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins had much more text on the screen at a time than Chocobo’s Dungeon. But gamers would rather be able to change the setting so they can play their favorite games, even if that means scrolling through more lines of text , rather than owning otherwise unreadable games. An increased text size option in a console game improves it’s accessibility which means there is a larger pool of potential gamers/customers and that is good situation for everyone.

About Gunthera1

Twitter name: Gunthera1
This entry was posted in Console Games and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Console Gaming: In-Game Text Size

  1. Nymeria says:

    I found the text color in Mass Effect 2 to be a poor choice too. It’s this bluish color that more often than not blends in with the background.

    It does that with some of the dialogue tree options too.

  2. Kateri says:

    I have nothing to add except that I LOVE YOU for picking that Dragon Age dialogue example! XD

    • Gunthera1 says:

      I can’t take too much credit for using it as it was something someone else grabbed for me when I was having trouble getting a good photo off my television. But I thought it was appropriate. :-)

  3. Tualarec says:

    Glad you brought up the issue. I had not noticed it so much in Mass Effect 2, for some reason I found it more of a problem in DA:O, and specially in Dead Rising, which I had to play in a small TV and I’m sure I could sue Capcom for eye damage and near-sightedness increase XD
    There should definitely be an option for increasing font size. I don’t know much about videogame development, but I’m gonna take a guess and assume it’s not that difficult to implement such an option.
    It’s nice to read, though, that Capcom listened to the complains and added an option to their next game (Lost Planet: Extreme Condition) that detected whether the TV being used was HD and, if not, adjusted the font size to make it more easily readable (it’s all explained there if you follow the link Gunthera1 posted about Dead Rising). Hope Bioware takes it into consideration too.

  4. 100littledolls says:

    Thank you so much for writing about this. I have a terrible time with text in console games. In Dragon Age I don’t even bother to check the Codex because I have to get up and walk to the TV (which is even an HD TV) to read it. I hate missing out on all the extra information, but straining my eyes and getting a headache isn’t worth it.

  5. nanasuyl says:

    Thanks so much for bringing that up. It’s so true! I used to play my Nintendo 64 and Gamecube very well in my small 14 inches telly, but I had to move my Wii to the TV of the living room thanks to The Godfather. I don’t have any sort of visual problems, but I guess I would develop one if I kept trying to read the small text from that game.

    My guess is that the game developers think everyone got a 42 inches TV and, if they don’t, they should get one. It’s not just with games, it’s with everything else on television, like scores for football matches and the ranking for the Formula One. I guess everyone decided people must have a big television. That’s so unfair, my TV is still doing good, I don’t want to buy another one!

    • 8mph Ansible says:


      nanasuyl:

      My guess is that the game developers think everyone got a 42 inches TV and, if they don’t, they should get one. It’s not just with games, it’s with everything else on television, like scores for football matches and the ranking for the Formula One. I guess everyone decided people must have a big television. That’s so unfair, my TV is still doing good, I don’t want to buy another one!

      *nod* I severely loathe that mentality. Not just from the provider(s) but consumers as well. Like it’s your fault that you’re improperly using your disposable income or your fault for not disposing of a still working & viable product. Makes my slapping hand twitchy.

      -Ani8

  6. Jargo says:

    At some point i stopped reading all the codex entries in dragon age because it was to exhausting for my eyes.
    The only good thing about the ME2 codex is that the whole text is also read to you. Would this be available doing scanning or doing loading screens i probably would listen to all of them, instead of reading the tiny text.

  7. Brinstar says:

    I have an HDTV the same size as you, Gunthera1, and I also played Dragon Age on the PS3. I definitely had difficulty reading some of the dialogue, to the point where at times I had to get up out of my seat to move closer, or missed out on things because I just didn’t want to bother.

    • Gunthera1 says:

      My sofa is 8 feet from the television but I also have a separate chair in the room that is between 2-3 feet away from the TV. I find that for a lot of the new PS3/Xbox360 games I have to sit in that that chair to be able to read anything. I want to be able to lounge on the sofa but it just isn’t possible with this small text size. It is very frustrating and clearly a problem for a lot of gamers.

      • Alex says:

        I have the same size TV, and also played DA on PS3… *television triplets!* But yeah, I moved my entire couch closer so I could read it, and even then the codex hurt my eyes. Jeez.

Comments are closed.