Video Games Accessibility has made many strides in recent years to include physical and mental disabilities in order to be as inclusive as possible to all types of players.

However, ADHD is often overlooked as an issue affecting children that will eventually grow out of it, even though in the US adults with ADHD represent about 4% of the population, 13 128 000 people (2020), a non-negligible statistic.

The three main symptoms of ADHD are Inattention, Hyperactivity and Impulsivity.

  1. Inattention can be towards speech, a lot of video games rely on either cut scenes for dialogue or dialogue choices (sometimes a mix of both). That means a player with ADHD could lose important parts of dialogue or make random choices because they didn’t understand the question.

  2. Hyperactivity can be fidgeting, tapping or talking a lot (mostly kids) or restlessness and constant activity (mostly adults). While playing, some players could become bored and quit the game when constant cut scenes are unskippable.

  3. Impulsivity means quick decisions without taking the time to think, being unable to delay long-term gratification and looking for a “quick fix”. Some in-game decisions can’t be changed, it means they have more weight but it also means impulsive players who clicked too fast are no longer playing the story they wanted and can’t change it.

“Nothing like ADHD and a good fight to the death to make time fly” - Rick Riordan, The Lost Hero

How to make sure your game is ADHD-friendly?

  • Subtitles and ideally closed captions with different colours during conversations so players can follow the dialogue.

    Subtitles in Rise of the Tomb Raider - Crystal Dynamics (2015)

    • Have options available to have detailed reminders on the steps to take to finish the current task with the necessary markers on the maps and the steps in the quest log, offered as different levels of guidance when starting the game.
      Guided Mode

      Guided mode option in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey - Ubisoft (2018)

      • Make sure players can go back to hear the dialogue again during a cutscene to avoid misunderstandings or frustration.
      • Allowing players to go back before critical choices also lessens mistakes and regret.
      • Giving players the option to undo their last choice would allow players who clicked too fast the possibility to fix their mistake; this means dialogue choices but also entering buildings or selecting a quest, for example.
      • An option to skip cutscenes is essential; the option should be a button whose icon pops up at the beginning of a cut scene to remind players.
      • If the cutscene is critical to the story of the game, it should not last more than a few minutes, as players might confuse the game with a movie.

      The overall idea of making video games ADHD-friendly is to make them as customisable as possible, which will positively impact overall accessibility and improve the user experience of ADHD players.