The Tekken 8 demo has been floating around for a few weeks now, granting players the opportunity to check out what is widely expected to be 2024’s biggest fighting game release on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. However, while many are praising its suite of accessibility options online, a Tekken 8 colorblind filter has been marked as a health risk by accessibility experts.
The filter in question was initially highlighted by ‘SJS | Gatterall’ over on Twitter as part of a post lauding Bandai Namco’s selection of aids for those with visual impairments within what we hope will become one of the best fighting games. In the attached clip, a filtered fight between Jin and Kazuya is taking place. The character models for both fighters are whited out with a black outline, but the egregious element is the barcode-like stripes that fill them – vertically for Jin and horizontally for Kazuya – and move with the pair.
We won’t be sharing the clip itself within this article as it has been highlighted as a seizure risk by industry specialists such as Ian Hamilton, who notes that it “has already actively harmed multiple people.” Meanwhile, DEI and accessibility consultant Tarja Porkka-Kontturi states that the striped filter gave them “instant vertigo” and that “it’s hazardous.” As for the other filters some, including Hamilton, have found them to be “not very useful”.
Not long after the initial flurry of complaints, series director Katsuhiro Harada took to Twitter to address the issue, stating that the team has “received positive feedback from many demo play participants,” and that people have “misunderstood the accessibility options we are trying, or have only seen the video without actually trying them out in the demo.” Unsurprisingly, this perceived rebuttal of what are very valid health and safety concerns prompted a critical response from Hamilton, as well as from senior Xbox Game Studios accessibility lead Tara Voelker, who linked him to EA’s IRIS photosensitivity tool.
Accessibility in the fighting game space has taken momentous strides in recent years. Two of 2023’s best games – Mortal Kombat 1 and Street Fighter 6 – showcased this, resulting in Game Awards nominations for them both in the ‘Innovation in Accessibility’ category. As new PS5 games and new Xbox games continue to improve their offerings for those living with disabilities, it’s encouraging to see Bandai offer such a wide range of options, but one can’t help but wonder how it has managed to drop the ball with these colorblind filters.
Hopefully, the striped filter will be appropriately adjusted or removed in time for the Tekken 8 release date, though judging from Harada’s response it’s currently looking unlikely. As such, proceed with caution if you’re a visually impaired player looking to get in on the action with the Tekken 8 characters, lest you find yourself affected by the filter.