Chris Ashton

dai11y 09/09/2022

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Virtual Reality Accessibility: The Importance of Comfort Ratings and Reducing Motion

Meryl Evans talks about ‘comfort ratings’ for VR experiences. These are like content ratings for films and games, e.g. “PG” for “Parental Guidance”.

Meta’s comfort ratings (for headsets such as Oculus) are as follows:

  • Comfortable – appropriate for most people. Generally no camera movement or player motion.
  • Moderate – appropriate for many. Might incorporate some camera movement or player motion.
  • Intense – not appropriate for many. Incorporates significant camera movement, player motion or disorientating content and effects.
  • Unrated – the developer hasn’t set a rating.

The Oculus app store lacks a filter facility, so you can’t search by comfort rating. Worse, Steam’s VR app store does not yet have a concept of comfort ratings.

Meryl calls for a standardised system across all VR platforms, moderated by a neutral third party such as Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). It should not be left to developers to decide; their motivation to broaden the potential audience and sales by falsely marketing their experience as ‘Comfortable’ is a conflict of interest.

Meryl finishes with a call to action for several organisations, including a request for headset platforms to build in a “reduced motion” mode.


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