I love all types of games. Give me traditional board games, like Monopoly and Clue, or old school card games, like Rummy and Pitch, or more stereotypically “geeky” games, like role playing games, “Euro games,” miniatures, war games, worker placement games, deck building games, etc. and I’ll at least try them. There’s just something about sitting around the gaming table and having some fun with a game that makes my world a little better. Sometimes, it’s the friendly competition, but most of the time it’s just the social aspect of it mixed with a great game that makes it worth doing.
We have a group of gamer buddies who have been playing various types of games together for a long time, a couple of us for 30+ years now. We’ve played just about every type of game. About a decade ago, some newer folks fell into my gamer orbit, including one friend, Tim, who is blind. Some games, like RPGs, don’t necessarily require sight to play. You just provide materials in Braille or electronic format that’s accessible to screen readers and add more verbal descriptions of visual aids like maps. Other more traditional card games are generally easy to manage because Braille playing cards have been around for a long time. But, some of then newer types of games, like card games with many different cards containing text on them, are harder to play without sight. We’ve always thought there must be a way to make some of these games more independently accessible to Tim. Luckily, someone else thought that and did something about it.
64oz. Games logo from their website
Tim turned me onto a Kickstarter last Spring for a small company called 64oz. Games. The company is a small start up designing their own games but they also wanted to make them playable by gamers who are blind. If you watch their video on the Kickstarter campaign site, they describe how, as they researched making accessible games, they realized no one was doing this or knew how to do it. They looked at lots of games and brainstormed what may be possible. They figured out what they’d need to create Braille lables and sleeves for cards as well as QR codes to embed card text readable out loud by a smartphone. (iPhones and Android phnes both have built in screen/text readers with iPhone’s VoiceOver being superior right now.) To make the Braille labels en masse, they needed a Braille embosser. (Think of it as a large, “printer” similar to an old dot matrix printer but with no ink. Just pins that poke the bumps into proper paper, card, or plastic stock. They’re expensive and loud.) Then, they selected a slate of games to offer accessibility kits for. They don’t sell modified games. I assume that would be a licensing hassle for a small outfit. But, what you got from the Kickstarter, depending on your backing amount, was one or more kits to modify a game of your choosing. Several in our group backed it and all chose different game kits so we could widen our selection of modified games in our collective libraries. (I chose a family favorite, Guillotine.)
Example of transparent sleeves with Braille for cards (via 64oz. Games)
Examples of QR codes added to cards (via 64oz. Games)
They also researched and designed Braille dice, beginning with the symbol of game geekiness, the 20-sider!
Braille 20 sided die from 64oz. Games
I received my kit for Guillotine last week and, soon, I’ll get that game adapted and go play it for the first time with Tim! I also got the big 20-sider which looks alright. It’s got some funny edges here and there and I’m going to go old school and crayon in the numerals, but it’s nice to have. I’m very pleased with the quality of the kit overall. I’m glad I helped them get started.
And, “get started” is what they’ve done Today, I received an email that their web store is up and running at www.64ouncegames.com! On it, right now, I see kits for sale for:
- Love Letter
- For Sale
- The Resistance
- This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the 2-4 Of Us
- Tiny Epic Kingdoms
- Boss Monster
- Kill the Overlord
They had more choices during the Kickstarter, like a kit for Dominion, so I know more kits are coming. They also sell the 20-sided Braille die and their own tactile card game, Yoink! They promise color blind kits for games soon too, which is personally great for me. My stepson and my son are both color blind as well as are two other guys in my gaming group. Games with low color contrast between playing pieces, board illustrations, etc. can be a real impediment to playing so I’m glad these color blind adaption kits are coming!
Games can be a lot of fun and anyone who wants to play with their friends and family ought to be able to. I’m glad 64oz. Games is out there making this happen. Now, time to do some shopping. I think Tim would totally dig playing The Resistance.