MTG Arena is on most mobile devices now, and it’s a good time for people who want to get into the game but didn’t have a PC.
It makes the game more accessible, because more people have access to it, and that can only be a good thing. However, it being on such a small screen has really shown off some of its flaws, especially when it comes to accessibility.
MTG Arena, despite this, still has no proper accessibility options, and it makes it more or less impossible for a lot of people to play. So, will MTG Arena get accessibility options, and is there any official word on it?
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What are the issues?
This has been an issue since the game first released, but a lot of people will have noticed it more with the mobile version now in everyone’s hand, but more importantly, on some far smaller screens.
Card names are barely legible unless you’re zoomed in, and while that’s fine if you’ve got an excellent memory and know all of the images, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time with highlighted cards to know what’s going on.
This is an issue on mobile for people with good eyesight, but it’s been a consistent issue for those without it since the game first launched.
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What is needed to improve MTG Arena accessibility?
We’ve been doing research to see if there’s any official word on this at all, and so far, all we can find is a few comments on the Reddit.
A player called coookieinaloop posted explaining that they’d just gotten into MTG Arena, but were having some troubles due to “very low vision.” With the colors not being prominent and all of the key information, the card text, being small and hard to read, it effectively locked them out. All of this was made worse by the timer as well, which makes it even harder if you’re not familiar with the cards.
The only answer appears to be WotC_Jay, which explains that there have been a lot of good suggestions but that familiarity with the cards would help, and that games against friends or challenges, as well as Sparky, don’t have the timer issue.
He then explains that there have been some good suggestions but that while “We definitely want to make the game accessible to all players, but it’s hard/expensive to get good insight into every different case.”
What could be done to improve MTG Arena accessibility?
In terms of what could be done to actually make this all useable for players with low vision, we found a blog from Lucas Radaelli that goes into some good details about potential options.
The first thing they propose is keyboard support. As they explain “many things can be seen as a list. List of cards in your hand, list of cards in the board.” They also state that you could use shortcuts to jump between the various parts, and then have something that could read out components of the lists.
This could easily be supported by their second suggestion, which is text-to-speech. “By providing a text-to-speech(TTS), solution, a player could hear the cards that are being played, selected or just in focus at a given moment.”
They go into detail about how you would ideally need a short and a long description of cards, because newer players need all of the information, while a more experienced player might only need the card name to know what’s going on. You’d need a combination of the two to make for the most accessible experience though.
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Will MTG Arena get accessibility options?
With all of that in mind, the question that remains is whether or not these things will ever actually be implemented. The Reddit post we linked to is a year old, and nothing has changed in that time.
While we have to assume that something will eventually be put into place, it is disappointing that nothing has been as of yet.
While these issues might not affect you, there is a player base out there that has found a way to play MTG in paper that have been locked out of paper MTG due to the pandemic, and can’t even get involved online with MTG Arena because it’s not possible.
This is a problem that needs addressing, and hopefully, we’ll hear something about it soon.
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