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Breaking Barriers: Combat Accessibility in 'God of War Ragnarok'

Adam Oliver  (Senior Combat Designer, Santa Monica Studio)

Location: Room 2002, West Hall

Date: Thursday, March 23

Time: 2:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design

Format: Lecture

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

The God of War franchise has its roots in delivering approachable, expressive combat for players of widely varying abilities. However, its complexity also provides unique opportunities for unintended barriers for players with disabilities, conflicting with those very roots. In crafting the latest entry, God of War: Ragnarök, Santa Monica Studio pushed many aspects of its combat further than ever before—and accessibility was no exception.

Join Adam Oliver as he covers the journey the team went on as they expanded the accessibility of God of War combat. Combat design, specific examples of resolving unintentional barriers, methods of challenging design instincts to achieve accessibility wins, and navigating conflicts with intended design will be explored in this presentation.


Attendees will gain lessons from real problems this AAA development team faced expanding accessibility. Attendees will also learn the value of including disabled players and accessibility consultants in the development process. Lastly, attendees will learn practical methods of reevaluating which gameplay elements are crucial to preserve while expanding accessibility.

Intended Audience

This is for any developer with interest in expanding accessibility—with an emphasis on Game Design groups, but members of any department can advocate for accessibility. Having a basic understanding of real-time combat systems and/or the problem space of motor accessibility is recommended.