Considering I’ve spent roughly half my life in dark rooms staring at blisteringly bright screens, my eyesight is decent. Do you know what’s making me feel like I’m going blind, though? Video games. This isn’t a case of my peepers slowly withering away and losing their clarity – all other aspects of my life remain unaffected and unchanged. No, I blame developers who are intent on decreasing the size of their titles' fonts as each year passes by.
I’m not exaggerating: the size of text in video games is getting smaller, and as user interfaces increase in complexity, it’s becoming a problem. Have you ever tried reading any of the glossaries in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from your couch? Don’t do it, you’ll be bloodshot within seconds. To be fair, CD Projekt Red did add a size toggle for inventory item descriptions, but it could have done more.
I started playing A Way Out in split-screen the other evening; it’s a title where conversations can overlap, and the only way to digest some dialogue is by reading it. The subtitles, I kid you not, are written in Size 6 Ariel in a bright yellow font; sometimes you’ll have to pick conversation options and you can’t even read what they are because they blend into the background.
This Is the Police is another one: a visual novel where the text is perpetually three pixels in height. There’s no option to rescale it – imagine buying a Kindle and being forced to purchase a magnifying glass in order to read anything! South Park: The Fractured But Whole has “accessible” subtitles, with large fonts and contrast-enhancing colours; its menu text would also squeeze onto a postage stamp.
Watch a movie on Amazon Prime Video and you have tons of accessibility options; you can select the size of the subtitles, the colour, and whether you want a background to be put behind them. I understand that, due to the graphic nature of menus, it can be more difficult to offer these kind of options – but surely developers should try. Why am I having to strain my eyes?
Now I know what you’re thinking: buy a bigger television. No, that’s not the solution at all. I’ve played titles like Vampyr with my face literally pressed against the screen, and still the text is tinier than a microorganism. I’ve rearranged furniture; I’ve even considered buying some binoculars – it really shouldn’t be this way.
Some games get it right: Life Is Strange 2 lets you select from a variety of font size options, all of which are smartly integrated into the world and readable. Also, you’ve got to give credit to the PlayStation 4’s integrated magnification option, which can be a quickfix when you’re in a bind. But the best solution is the most straightforward one: just increase the font sizes, devs – it’s not hard.
Hopefully you were able to read the words in this article. Assuming you were, have you had an issue with the font sizes in games? Put on some spectacles in the comments section below.