Speechmatics, the world’s leading speech-to-text API scaleup, has joined forces with Ubisoft to provide improved accessibility for leading free-to-play (F2P) game ‘Brawlhalla’. There has been an increase in inclusive design practices within the video game industry over the past few years, and now live captioning enables a wider range of viewers to watch their favourite streamers playing Brawlhalla. This comes as 66% of gamers with disabilities or impairments say they face barriers or issues relating to their experience of video games according to disability charity, Scope.
With over 80 million players and a range of platforms being used across both mobile, console and PC, Brawlhalla’s popularity makes it a prime title to demonstrate the value and importance of accessibility. Using Speechmatics’ real-time speech-to-text API, the new feature is available for all live streams, including esports tournaments and the regular twice-a-week developer streams. And for viewers this just means turning on Closed Captions at the bottom of the stream window and seeing it live. The integration of these Closed Captions follows the CEA-608 standard. As a result, these Closed Captions are supported by a large portion of Over The Top (OTT) services, including but not limited to Twitch and Youtube. This also means that the Closed Captions work natively on most devices including mobile. After capturing the audio, the Speechmatics engine sends a real time text feed to a custom Wowza Engine, which inserts the text stream and sends the whole package off to its final destination in the viewer’s home.
Further enhancing the live captioning function, Speechmatics’ Custom Dictionary feature means the Brawlhalla team can add custom words to the stream instantly so it can accurately recognise and understand words that relate to new characters or environments, which would not be present in the datasets that the technology is trained on. Having this feature available in real-time means the accessibility of the technology can evolve as Brawhalla does.
The collaboration between Ubisoft and Speechmatics addresses a significant demand in the market. Esports, developers, and streaming communities must continue to provide a wide range of accessibility options for viewers. While real-time captioning for players of Brawlhalla will initially operate in English, there are future ambitions to roll out the service to anyone, anywhere, and at any time.
Katy Wigdahl, CEO at Speechmatics said, “As an industry that is bigger than Hollywood and the music industry combined, there is no doubt that gaming has huge potential to lead the way on accessibility. There has already been some great progress in this, with a wide range of adaptive controllers and display options available to most games and platforms, but there’s more to be done. We are delighted to be working with Ubisoft, with many of the Speechmatics team growing up playing its games. It’s an organisation that has an outstanding track record on accessibility – to further this goal, and we look forward to helping them continue to make gaming and streaming as inclusive as possible.”
Mateo Palfreman, Manager of Stream Production at Brawlhalla said, “Accessibility is increasingly part of the day-to-day fabric of game development at Ubisoft. The past few years have seen tremendous progress, with increased awareness, changing attitudes and practices across the board. We recognize our responsibility to include as many players as possible and Speechmatics provides the most accurate real-time speech-to-text on the market.”
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