While 2016 has been a difficult year for many, I want to reflect on my favorite things that helped me get through the hardest days. Our joy and entertainment, our binge-watching Netflix or slipping away for a few hours with a good book, will aid us now and in the coming years. I hope you enjoy my Best of 2016 list – in the comments below, let me know what you think of my choices, and what’s on your best-of list!
Best video game: Stardew Valley by Chucklefish
By far my most-played game this year, clocking in at 129 hours and counting. You leave a dull office job and travel to Stardew Valley, a small, struggling community with a farm you’ve just inherited from your grandfather. By growing, harvesting, and selling crops, as well as caring for livestock, you earn enough money to expand your farm and help rebuild the derelict community center. You can also go fishing and mining to level up your character. The game never punishes you too much, and there are no time limits for the overall goals; this eliminates the boring grind of most farming sims. Despite all the hours put in, I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface. Pick this up if you liked Harvest Moon! Available on Steam. … Read more…
Do you remember the first console game you played? For me, it was probably Video Olympics (with Pong included) or Asteroids on the Atari 2600. Turning that knob to slide the paddles up and down, or pushing that joystick to avoid enemy fire was pure joy for my 5-year-old self. Those pixelated titles ushered in the Golden Age of video games, and it’s striking to see how far we’ve come since then. While we may scoff at console graphics of the late 70s and early 80s, we have to keep in mind how mind-blowingly advanced these systems were for their time. I’m sure 20 or 30 years down the line, PS4 games will pale in comparison to whatever technology has in store for us.
There’s a lot of interesting stories to tell about early console design that deserve attention, and Brett Weiss’ book, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987, zooms in on this revolutionary era of gaming. It serves not only as a trip down memory lane, tapping into that nostalgia we so longingly crave, but it acts as an archive and provides a definitive history of popular titles. … Read more…
I was excited for a new, free Pokémon game – until I realized it wasn’t accessible.
I don’t begrudge anyone their fun with Pokémon Go. It’s a good way to get folks out and around in their community if they have the ability to do so. Seeing strangers bond over a shared interest is fantastic. Some have said it helps with their mental and emotional well-being. But developers are ignoring a significant portion of gamers – disabled people. Inaccessible games are nothing new (listen to me talk about it), but we can’t accept the status quo when it increasingly and continually marginalizes us.
So, what makes Pokémon Go not accessible for me and other disabled users? … Read more…
I’ve finally gotten around to recording my very first Let’s Play! Watch me navigate the extra creepy game, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, on my iMac via Steam. Listen as I spontaneously break into song, collect inordinate amount of tinder, and blank out on the word “armor.” Subtitles and visual descriptions included – just watch the video below, or click here. As always, leave comments here or on the video to let me know if you enjoyed, or if you have any suggestions for future installments!
When I was a young girl, I loved choose-your-own-adventure books; my favorites were the Give Yourself Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. They were immersive and exhilarating for me, as I could go on these journeys without ever leaving my room. They also combined two of my favorite things – games and reading. When I was offered the chance to review Sherlock Holmes Solo Mysteries, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to jump back into an adventure.character creation page
This game is just like those choose-your-own adventure books I poured over as a kid. It is an interactive adaptation of the original “game book” published in 1987 by Iron Crown Enterprises. You play as Watson’s cousin, James G. Hurley, though you can change the name of your character if you wish. In your inventory, you have a notebook, pencil, penknife, and some money. There’s a place to keep notes, as well as a map of the area in which your mystery is set. Using these tools, you must join Sherlock and Watson to solve the murder at the Diogenes Club!
As a digital version of a game book, the story is crucial to the overall success of the experience. My judgments here are not geared toward AppEndix LLC, as they did not write the main text. You start the game off with a smaller mystery – the poisoning of a prized race horse favored to win the big race. This was my favorite part of this game, as more snooping around is involved. The story was fast-paced and fun to work through. After solving this mystery successfully, you move on to the main story of the murder at the Diogenes Club. This one was much slower, as a huge chunk of your investigation is interviewing the many suspects. It didn’t engage me nearly as much as the previous mystery because it relied too heavily on dialogue and bland exposition. The writing is decent, though, and fits in nicely with Arthur C. Doyle’s world.
Game Rating: E (Everyone), with mild violence
Game Publisher: HerInteractive
Platform: Mac/PC, digital download or physical copy
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Buy this at: Amazon.com, HerInteractive.com, or your local game shop for $19.99
I’ve been playing the Nancy Drew PC game series since their introduction in 1998. I’m a huge fan of literature and point-and-click adventures, so I knew this series would scratch that itch. I remember how the first game, Secrets Can Kill, came with two CDs you needed to switch out during gameplay. Now, some of HerInteractive’s award-winning titles can fit on an iPad! The technology behind these games (and, well, I guess technology in general) has advanced greatly. Gone are the days of multiple CDs, choppy graphics, and long load times; now we can enjoy our games with crisp animation, quality audio, small file sizes, and almost no load times. The Nancy Drew computer games have transitioned smoothly along with the technological advancements, and The Shattered Medallion showcases that exquisitely. … Read more…
Grail to the Thief is an interactive audio adventure game that is currently on Kickstarter, and produced by For All to Play. It simulates text-based adventures, or pick-your-own adventure games, and adds audio (including ambient sound, narration, and dialogue) for blind accessibility. I was able to play the prototype, currently available for Chrome and Opera users, and absolutely loved it. The story is engaging and humorous, while giving the player a lot of variety and freedom. Unlike other text adventure games where you must type in commands, Grail to the Thief offers you multiple choices to advance in the quest. Also, the sounds included in the prototype are not complete yet, but I really liked what I heard so far – the character voices are not dull, and made me feel like I was really interacting with them. The story itself is amusing, and I can’t wait to see what other adventures will be created for subsequent games!
The creators of Grail to the Thief, Elias Aoude, Anthony Russo, and DJ White, were kind enough to answer some questions for me.
1) Can you tell us about yourselves and how you got into game design?
Elias: I’ve been playing video games my whole life. I can still remember going to the local toy store with my parents to purchase my first video-game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System. I brought it home and played Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt with my parents, siblings, and cousin all night long. I knew at a young age that I wanted to be working in the video game industry in some capacity, and now, I’m finally doing that.
Anthony: Games have always been, and will continue to be, a huge part of my life. I started playing games at a very young age, probably around two or three, on NES and later, Sega Genesis. I cannot remember a holiday, birthday, or trip outside the house that I didn’t ask to buy a game. I have wedged games into my life in every way that I possibly could. At a young age, I started learning how to produce 3D art for games. I wrote papers all throughout high school on the design and psychological effects of games. Even my Eagle Scout project was related to games, as I donated a Wii to a retirement home so the residents could get up and bowl once in a while and have fun as a community.
I am a lucky person, in that I have always known what I wanted to do and why. I want to make games because I want to deliver the sense of community and enjoyment that games have given to me my whole life to others. Whether it’s yelling at friends over multiplayer games, comparing times in a racing game, discussing story beats of a well-written narrative game, or talking about the intricate mechanics of the latest strategy game, I have yet to see a more social, engaging, dynamic medium than games. I have always wanted to be a part of its production, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
DJ: I’ve always been really interested in video games. My parents owned an NES before I was born, so some of my earliest memories are actually of watching my mom play The Legend of Zelda. But I never really considered working on games until I was at WPI. I had already decided to head towards computer science, but as I thought more about what I was planning on doing after school, I realized that game design was where I was really headed. … Read more…
This is the first in a series of articles I will be posting about video and computer-gaming accessibility. Today’s post is by a guest blogger, and I’m very excited about her contribution. I’ve been watching her YouTube videos for a while, and they’re super interesting and helpful to disabled gamers. I hope you enjoy! Also, I’m always looking for more guest bloggers. If you have something to share, please contact me – you can find my e-mail on the About page, or just leave a comment. Now, on to introductions and the review!
My name is April, and I am a disabled gamer. After years of thinking outside the box to find strategies to get around roadblocks in video games, some friends convinced me to start a website to share my tips in hopes of helping others. I started Ability Powered in early 2013. Now, I post articles, guides, and tips on my website, and have guides and accessibility first-look videos on Youtube. You can check us out at www.abilitypowered.com, or on YouTube at www.youtube.com/abilitypowered.
World of Warcraft is Blizzard’s popular MMORPG. Players are challenged with the task of questing and defending the world of Azeroth from invasions of all kinds. With villians and injustice at every turn, you and your fellow gamers quickly become heroes! Sounds fantastic, right? But what about accessibility?
Mobility in Azeroth is, honestly, as good as it gets. There are multiple options allowing players to choose how they wish to move their character. You can move with traditional keyboard movement, which is fully remapable in the keybindings menu. You can also move with your mouse in multiple ways. By default, you can move by holding down both mouse buttons simultaneously. Want to only press one button? You can do that by enabling the Click to Walk option. Click to Walk allows you to right click a point for your character to automatically run to. Need to walk with your right mouse button, or need an on-screen jump button? That’s also an option! The addition of Move Pad made it possible for disabled gamers to click an on-screen menu to move their character with simple presses of a button. That’s four movement options available to meet players’ needs.