Undertale

Reflection point: Usability, Accessibility, and Ethics

Zach Cohen
Feb 27, 2018 · 2 min read

Undertale is an RPG created by an indie game developer, Toby Fox. In the game, players control a human child who has fallen into the Underground, a large, secluded region underneath the surface of the Earth, separated by a magic barrier.

The player meets many different beings along the way, some nice, some not so nice. The player also engages in battles and conversations, which the actions dictate the outcome of the game.

Undertale was made by one person, but exhibits humor, emotion, replay-ability, and ease of access. He not only made the whole game and all of the music, but put so much thought into the relationships that it can feel really great or really regrettable depending on your choices.

Character development goes so far as to a pair of skeleton brothers who’s names are the font of their words

The game is simple, with only arrow keys as controls for most of the game. This allows essentially all players the ability to enjoy the game. From a usability standpoint, this is great because many people with disabilities cannot use a mouse at their computer. Most PC games require mice and sometimes even an exceptionally fast gaming computer. Undertale is beautiful because it opens up its walls to all and anyone with an interest can play the game.

The graphics are charming, but pixelated. There is no 60fps required for enjoyment. All of the factors of this product are accessible, and Mr. Fox thought of these when creating his claim to fame.

The player and your caretaker, Toriel.

The game represents diversity, even when talking about monsters. You feel like you are in another world, but it seems familiar in a way. The game gives you the freedom of choice, along with repercussions for your choices, good and bad.

This is a good example of what a game can become with the right intentions. The game is usable, ethical, and accessible. The reception reflected that and made Toby Fox and Undertale very well known in the indie game world.

Something to think about: What other games can you think of that give a nod to usability and ethics?

Zach Cohen

Written by

product designer at Integrate. https://zach-cohen.com/

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