Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Games for the Visually Impaired
Game forums and reviews often mention color blindness and how that should affect the graphic design of a particular game, but not much has been written about designing games that can also be played by people who cannot see at all.
When I found out that friends of mine, one of whom is visually impaired, enjoyed playing games and had adapted several card games using stick-on Braille labels, I wanted to make one of my designs playable for them as well. Piece o' Cake was the obvious choice, as there are really only two kinds of information on each slice: the number of that flavor in the game (which also signifies that flavor), and the number of whipped cream dollops.
Today, my family and I were invited to their house for the Day of German Unification. It's been a holiday here since 1990, although most Germans don't throw big parties to celebrate the occasion. But we had invited them to barbecue for our American Independence Day on July 4th, and they wanted to return the favor, so the date made sense.
After a wonderful meal of hearty German cuisine, our friends turned on their stereo and played the song upon which the original German version of Piece o' Cake was name: "Aber bitte mit Sahne" by Udo Jürgens.
Then we broke out the game. The Braille was typed on clear plastic labels and did not cover up the illustrations on the tiles. In addition, they had a lazy susan turntable in the middle of the table for the pie. When it was her turn to cut, my friend could rotate the pie and read each slice easily with her fingers and avoid having to read any of the slices upside down. As she turned the pie and read each peace, she asked for reminders of who currently had the most of each flavor. The entire game was actually much more communicative, as we each announced aloud which slices were being uncovered when making the pies, and which ones each of us were collecting and "eating."
After the first play of the game, our friends had grasped the strategy of it and insisted on a rematch. This, we followed with coffee and cake, of course (but since it was cheesecake, there were no whipped cream dollops).
Posted by Jeffrey Allers