Will the Nintendo Switch Be Accessible for Disabled Gamers?

I have fond memories of playing Mario Bros, Zelda, and Pokémon on a plethora of Nintendo consoles. The last time I picked up a Nintendo title was when Ocarina of Time came out; since then, the system became increasingly inaccessible, especially with the Wii. I felt like the company focused on getting people to move around, leaving many disabled people to look elsewhere for their entertainment. Motion-sensing games are not feasible for someone who can’t move their arms or hold up a bulky controller. The size of the N64 was cumbersome too, but my disability wasn’t as progressed at that time to render it completely inaccessible. Earlier systems, like the original Nintendo and the SNES, had smaller, lighter controllers with fewer buttons, but console designers moved away from that user experience. … Read more…

Six Board Game Accessibility Fails, and How to Hack Them: Part Two

Board Game Accessibility Fails and How to Hack Them: Part Two, background is a close up of wood tokens and dice

In part one of this series, I covered the inaccessibility of hidden information, dexterity mechanics, and real-time games. Below are three more game mechanics and styles that prohibit me (and other disabled folks) from enjoying board games to their fullest. As always, please share your thoughts in the comments, or send a tweet to @geekygimp!

Component Heavy with picture of trains in ticket to rideComponent Heavy

The Problem: While component-heavy games could be appealing, especially when it comes to miniatures, they present an access barrier. Some games require different tokens to track a plethora of stats, points, and movements; add in multiple card decks and 20 robot miniatures, and you’re inundated with cardboard and plastic. I have trouble extending my arms, and my table space is limited, making it hard to keep all the components separate and organized. For someone with shaky hands, stackable tokens and exact component placement render many component-heavy games difficult or entirely inaccessible. … Read more…

Six Board Game Accessibility Fails, and How to Hack Them: Part One

Six Board Game Accessibility Fails, and How To Hack Them: Part One

I’ve always needed help playing board games, as I don’t have the range-of-motion, strength, or dexterity to do it on my own. There are actions I can do, like roll dice or pick up a card, and others I can’t, like shuffling or reaching to move pieces across the board. Gaming has always been an act of interdependence, much like all my activities of daily living, and something I’ve adapted to over the years with personal hacks.

House rules and small-scale solutions can work, but what if these adjustments were baked into the game? Thoughtful and inclusive design doesn’t just mean more disabled people can play, but it can improve the quality of the game for everyone.

In this two-part series, I point out six access barriers I’ve encountered in tabletop gaming and offer potential solutions that can work right out of the box. These access issues are from my perspective as a physically disabled individual, and the hacks below may not apply or work for everyone, but I hope my words can be a resource and starting point for designers and players alike. … Read more…

The Geeky Gimp’s Best of 2016

The Geeky Gimp's Best of 2016. Image of Erin overlayed with fireworks.

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

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 MoonAvailable on Steam. … Read more…

Recap of #CripTrek

#CripTrek Twitter Chat Recap over a starry background

Hey Trekkers/Trekkies! If you missed the live #CripTrek Twitter chat, you can read the recap below.

We need to keep the conversation going, so please continue using the #CripTrek hashtag to talk about disability representation in Star Trek! You can also share the recap on your own page – don’t hesitate to link to it or tweet about it.

Here is a link to the recap on Storify, or view it in the slideshow below. Thank you to everyone involved! Until then, live long and prosper.

Review of The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987

Erin reading the book, looking up at the camera

Cover of book, looks like a NES gameDo 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…

#CripTrek: To Boldly Go Where No Crip Has Gone Before

#CripTrek header, logo on a star background, images of Geordi, 7 or 9, and Melora

Hey disabled Star Trek fans – let’s let CBS know we’re here and we want disability representation in their new series, Star Trek: Discovery! Using two hashtags, #StarTrekDiscovery and #CripTrek, share an idea, picture, video, audio recording, piece of writing, or other digital representation of YOU and your love of all things Trek. Maybe a pic of the Vulcan salute, a poem confessing your Spock and Bones ship, or a video acting out your favorite scene – be creative!

Lt Barclay, wearing yellow TNG uniformTweet at @StarTrekCBS and tell them why you want a disabled character in the cast! Post your contribution with the hashtags on Twitter or Instagram to make sure everyone sees your creation. You can also just share overall thoughts about disability and Trek using #CripTrek – we will keep the conversation going.

On September 1st at 7pm EST, I’ll host a Star Trek and disability Twitter chat along with Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project. The Disability Visibility Project™ is a community partnership with StoryCorps and an online community dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing disability stories and culture.

To join that chat, log onto Twitter and follow @geekygimp. Starting at 7pm EST, I’ll start posting the questions below, and you can answer using the #CripTrek and #StarTrekDiscovery hashtags. If you have any questions or accessibility concerns, please get in touch with me through the contact page.

Thanks to Mike Mort and his design skills, we have this awesome #CripTrek graphic! Feel free to grab the image and use it as your social media profile pic of choice. The background is transparent to use as you wish. If you have trouble downloading, please contact me.

CripTrek logo is blue insignia with name below and a wheelchair in the insigniaRead more…

Pokemon Go: Developers Drop the Pokeball on Accessibility

Three shelves filled with plush Pikachu at a store

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…

The Geeky Gimp Riots: Video Game Accessibility

screenshot of Geek Girl Riot website with headline number seventeen, the geeky gimp riots, video game accessibility with a screenshot below of access options in Uncharted 4

You knew I couldn’t stop podcasting, right?

I’m proud to share that I am now part of Geek Girl Riot, where awesome gals record short clips on everything nerdy. My segment, The Geeky Gimp Riots, focuses on disability in geekdom (surprise!).

The first one is on video game accessibility.

Transcript is available on their website. Let me know what you think in the comments below, and suggest future topics you’d like covered!

Until next time, keep rioting 😉

Easy Roller Dice Co. – Tabletop Review

Easy Roller Dice Co. Product Review. Below text are three d20 dice, blue, purple swirl, and sparkly pink

shiny blue dice with varying side counts d10, d20, etc Imagine dice rolling across the table, landing on a number that seals the fate of your latest in-game decision – how does that moment make you feel? For me, it’s this inspired burst of energy and excitement – the same visceral reaction when I crack open a new book. Dice not only remind me of good times with friends, but they bring out my creative side with all their possibilities. With just a few d20s, I could design a game; add a pencil and paper, and I could imagine a whole world and its heroes.

My dice collection is fairly small, but I’m always on the lookout for pretty ones at game conventions. My five-year-old niece is getting into the hobby as well, which couldn’t make me happier. So of course I was delighted when Easy Roller Dice Co. offered to send me some products of my choosing to review. When I saw their clear-with-pink-sparkles set, I knew a kid who would love them.

Inside dice bags, aerial shot, black exteriors and blue, purple, red satin interiorsAppearance alone, Easy Roller Dice Co. dice and bags are gorgeous. The dice all have a nice weight and shine, feeling like polished, cast acrylic. Each die is hand-inspected before shipment, and there were no blemishes or chips on any of them. The small dice bags have a black velvet exterior, and a vibrant satin interior that comes in four different colors: blue, purple, gold, and red. Each bag also has the logo sewn on a small tag, sturdy pull strings, and some sort of stiff fabric inside to hold their shape. My mom wants to steal them to store her jewelry, so they’re multi-purpose too!

The 7-piece dice sets include one each of the following: a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, and a percentile 10-sided die. … Read more…