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…
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!
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…
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…
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…
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!).
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 😉
I interviewed designer Eduardo Baraf this past summer about his new game, Lift Off! Get Me Off this Planet! It was successfully funded on Kickstarter, with copies on their way to backers as I post this. Now, Ed is launching a new game on Kickstarter called The Siblings Trouble, with gorgeous artwork and fantastic gameplay mechanisms that give it an epic RPG feel. Check out my interview with Ed below to learn more about the game, which launches today!
GG: Hi Ed, thanks for joining me again to talk about your upcoming game, The Siblings Trouble! Before we get into the details about that, how are you doing? How are things going/where are you with Lift Off! Get me off this Planet!?
Ed: Personally, I’m doing well. Life is busy, but in a good way. My family is healthy and I’m making lots of stuff, which makes me happy. Lift Off! Get me off this Planet! is going well. We were delayed on a few components, but all of the final manufacturing is complete and all copies have left PandaGM in China! The games are now starting the process of being shipped around the world and should be in players hands end of April to mid-May. … Read more…
Many thanks to Andrea for sending me this to review. Her design is a unique game that is just revving up on Kickstarter, so check out my thoughts to see if this is something you want to pick up! As always, leave your comments below to let me know of any questions or concerns you may have. Enjoy!
Game: Mining Maniac
Designer: Andrea Tsang
Artists: Chung Fong and Vincent Tang
Publisher and Date: X-Axis Production, 2014
Players: 2 to 4, but up to 6 with a future expansion
You’ll like this if you like: Harbour and other market manipulation games.
In Mining Maniac, players act as executive officers of their own mining companies. The object is to amass the most cash by the end of the year, sabotaging your competitors and dodging their attacks along the way. Choose from among your best workers to go out and mine for precious gems, coal, copper, and gold. You can sell the minerals at their current market price, or hold out until next month when they’ll be worth more money. But watch out for unexpected events like collapsed mines, taxes, labor strikes, market crashes, and landslides; these obstacles will hinder your progress and affect the profits of your company! … Read more…
Like many board game reviewers, I have a twitter account for engaging with my followers and to keep tabs on what’s happening in the gaming community. One of my followers, David, posted about these new games he was creating that fit entirely in Altoid-like mint tins. I was intrigued, and found his obvious love of the hobby and enthusiasm refreshing. Over the course of a few months, we exchanged ideas, gave each other feedback on our respective projects, and grew to be friends. As the Kickstarter for David’s games revved up, he kindly sent me a copy of both Mint Tin Aliens and Mint Tin Pirates, knowing I would give an honest review of his games.
So here we are, a few days before his Kickstarter ends, and I’m finally ready to show you these (spoiler alert!) awesome games. I’m going to review each separately, since they both give you a completely different gaming experience. Also, many thanks to Ing for the fantastic piece of art he created just for this review! You can purchase a print of his work here.