My video game genre of choice is role playing games. Many of these have detailed cut scenes that tell the story of the game as you progress through the experience. Unfortunately, in a number of games that I have recently played there has been a glaring omission: subtitles. Games with this issue include Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, Jeanne d’Arc, and Lunar: Silver Star Harmony. Each of these games is text heavy during the game play but then has NO subtitles during the animated cut scenes. These specific games also have the problem that they do not recap the cut scenes in text form after they finish. If a player was unable to hear the dialogue during the scenes, he or she would miss part of the story.
With hearing loss affecting approximately 17% of Ameican adults and that number only rising with age this is a large concern for many gamers. Television and the movie studios have added Close Captioning and subtitles to their media. Ubisoft pledged to include subtitles in future games produced in-house. Are some developers consistently providing subtitles and should be commended? How many others appear to ignore this issue? We need more publishers and developers to understand this as an important accessibility concern and consistently provide subtitles when characters speak.