Video games are making 'safe' modes if you're afraid of spiders or deep water. Activate them, and they disappear.
- Alternative playing modes in video games have attempted to make the space more accessible.
- There are now arachnophobia and thalassophobia modes to alleviate fears of spiders and deep water.
Those who are scared of spiders no longer have to shut their eyes while playing their favorite video games as developers create play modes built around specific phobias.
Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, and thalassophobia, the fear of deep water, are two play modes that have been implemented across a slew of major titles from developers like Electronic Arts, Warner Bros. Games, and PlayStation Studios, Axios reported.
In early May, "Hogwarts Legacy," the massively successful Harry Potter-themed RPG, became the latest game to introduce an arachnophobia mode to its accessibility options.
When activated, the mode softens the appearance of spider enemies by changing their physical profiles, removes their "skitters and screeches," and renders their corpses invisible, per the game's patch notes.
"Normally I don't play with this kind of option enabled despite mild arachnophobia," one Redditor commented on a post about the update. "I'm absolutely going to have to enable this because that's just delightful."
"Star Wars Jedi: Survivor," a game from Electronic Art's Respawn Entertainment studio, began working on an arachnophobia mode close to a year ago, after a developer became unable to work on a level due to their own fear of spiders, Axios reported.
The accessibility mode became available in late April and removes all of the spider-like enemies from the playing experience.
"They've been able to do this all along??" one player wrote on a Reddit post about the update. "So many spiders I could have avoided. So many."
Guerilla Games' "Horizon Forbidden West" is tackling thalassophobia through an update that improves users' underwater visibility and allows them to breathe while submerged, according to the game's developers.
Warner Brothers Games, Respawn Entertainment, and Guerilla Games did not respond to Insider's requests for comment
The push for game modes that attempt to alleviate phobias began in 2020, when Obsidian Entertainment, a studio owned by Microsoft's Xbox Game Studios, announced it would include an arachnophobia mode in "Grounded," a survival game in which players wake up in their backyards after being shrunken down to the size of an ant.
When toggled on, players are able to alter the appearance of spider enemies and limit the sounds they make.
A Microsoft spokesperson told Insider that the developer has no other games with arachnophobia modes confirmed.
Accessibility in gaming has made a leap in recent years as studios, both major and indie, seek to incorporate features into their games that make them playable for all. Xbox, for example, has introduced a public group that lets members offer feedback on the accessibility of its games.
Last year, Naughty Dog, a game studio owned by Sony, released "The Last of Us Part I," with a number of accessibility features — including hearing and visibility ones — available from its launch date.
"I think it's incredible that games are opening up more and more to different people," Guerilla Games' Joshua van Gageldonk told Axios. "We're all different, and it's great if we can customize games to just how we like them."
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