We learned back in April that Grounded, the new miniaturised survival game from Obsidian Entertainment, would include an “arachnophobia mode” for players with an aversion to spiders. Let’s take a look at how this accessibility option works now that the game is out in the wild.
Upon booting up Grounded for the first time, the game will immediately let you know about the slider it included for arachnophobes. Spiders represent the greatest challenge in the game at the moment, after all, so it’s great that the devs are immediately up front about the possibility of coming face-to-face with these eight-legged freaks.
Instead of a separate mode, however, Grounded handles its spider problem with a slider. At one end of the scale, you have what we would call a “normal” spider: segmented body, fangs, a bunch of legs and eyes. But as you move to the opposite extreme, the spiders begin to lose the things that make them, well, spider-like.
As you move the slider to the right, spiders begin to lose some of their legs, and then the rest of their appendages go away, too. Next, the fangs are deleted. Then some of the eyes are removed, the body gets different proportions, and the texture goes away. At the very end what you’re left with is essentially a floating blob, probably one of the least-threatening 3D objects you’ll find in a video game.
Despite its terrifying premise, Grounded is a pretty lighthearted game at its core. Building a base and learning to survive in a new ecosystem is the main pull, with spider battling representing just a small portion of the overall adventure. With that in mind, I think it’s great that Obsidian went above and beyond on this one feature to make sure as many people as possible can play.
While generally thought of as a matter of physical limitations, accessibility can and should encompass psychological and emotional challenges as well. It would be really cool to see more games follow Grounded’s example.