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Audio Output: A Review of Games for Blind/VI Gamers!

Mass effect 3

I thought I’d take my chances and delve into the world of games that are designed specifically for blind and visually impaired people. I wanted to look at different websites/games, and rate them on playability, if they were easy to find and whether I would play them again. 

There are some computer games that are not specifically designed for, but can be played by, blind and VI users, these are few and far between. One of these which I can think of is Guitar Hero which can be played using a guitar-like controller and listening to the sounds of the song, or for anyone who has any remaining vision, by seeing the colours move across the screen. I would still argue, however that someone who was completely blind would need a little help to play this game if they didn’t know by heart the appropriate colours to press at which time. Many blind gamers also adapt games that are not intended for their audience, or work around gaming features to help them to access them. One example of one such person is Terry Garrett, who has learned to play Zelda simply using the sounds in the game (http://www.wired.com/2011/04/blind-gamer-plays-zelda-by-ear/). Being an ex-Zelda addict myself, I also used to play along these lines, although I used my remaining vision to my advantage as well. 

What I wanted to find out about was the games specifically designed for blind gamers and I thought I’d track a few down to review. This all comes about after reading a funny article on PC Gamer’s website that jokingly asked “what if” modern graphics-rich games were simple text adventures. What they probably didn’t realise was that blind gamers would actually benefit from a text-only version of a game with a brilliant story.

Anyway, on to the games….

http://www.ifiction.org/

ifiction.org is a gaming platform where the games can be accessed by anyone but are designed for those who are blind or partially sighted. They are narrative fictional interactive games and there are lots to choose from. These games are where you start with a line of text e.g. ‘you are in a dark forest. You come to a river. What do you do? Cross the river or walk east’.  I played one called ‘Adventureland’ which centred around a forest and a valley. You simply type in the commands of the compass (‘north’, ‘south’ ‘east’ or ‘west’) and click or press enter on a button reading ‘Do it’ and the story carries on. It may seem a little tedious at first but stick with it! I actually found it very gripping! The only thing to watch out for – and it’s a very small thing – is that you have to type a catergory of game into the search box on the website to play, but this is a very small thing that you would get used to. 

Game Website Rating: 4/5 

The Grey Sorcerer http://www.questml.com/quests/ 

This one definitely wins the award for ‘most gripping text game EVER!’. It’s very well designed, the text works with text-to-speech programmes and you can enlarge the pages with magnification software – that was how I played it. In this set of games, there are multiple choice options for which actions you want to take during the game, for example: ‘follow the path’ or ‘exit the forest.’ This then takes you to a different point in the interactive narrative and you continue playing from there.  There is not only this game on the website but this was one of my favourites! It’s a lot of fun to play, the website is really easy to use and I love the idea of interactive stories! Very clever! 

Game Rating: 5/5 

http://textadventures.co.uk/games/view/l9ibfwkjykoxfqiyzoe6yq/the-enchanted-glade 

This game is called ‘The Enchanted Glade’ and is available on TextAdventures.co.uk. I did enjoy playing this game but it’s not as gripping as the previous one – it seems to take a good while to get going anywhere which is annoying when you haven’t got long between lectures! The website layout is easy to use and very versatile.  I still enjoyed it and it was easy to use. There are lots of different games to choose from on the site. 

Game Rating: 3/5 

20Q online http://www.20q.com/ 

This is the classic game 20 Questions where you play against the computer! I played this very dubious as to whether the computer would get it right and it did! The only thing I would say is that I think the game could get a little boring after a few tries, having said that, it’s quicker to play than the other games but not as gripping. I enjoyed it but not as much as the narrative games. 

Game rating: 3/5 

All of the games featured in this list can be played by both blind and visually impaired gamers, as they do not require any sight in order for them to be played. All of them are compatible with magnification software and/or speech narration software programmes. My favourites by far were the interactive narrative games as they were so gripping and something different form the norm. 

So there you have it – games designed for blind/VI players. I’d probably say that if you’re looking for something quick to play, then 20Q is the way to go, but if you want some real adventure, go for The Grey Sorcerer or The Enchanted Glade. I loved both of these games, and once you get started, they are very gripping! I would say though….I’d prefer to play Mass Effect 3 the Text Adventure 😉

Have you found any accessible games lately? Tell us in the comments! Until next time, happy gaming everyone!

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Comments (2)

  • Ian Hamilton

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    A particularly exciting one recently has been Injustice: Gods Among Us, a mainstream high production value AAA console game (https://www.injustice.com/en). Which has a blind accessibility setting.

    The gameplay was already very nearly blind-accessible, as it’s just two objects (you and your opponent) moving on a 2D plane, with every single move carrying a unique sound effect. So just through stereo sound you can hear exactly who is doing what.

    However there are also background objects that you can hit the other character into. So you need to know where they are.

    So the developers added in a setting to play a different sound effect when each of the players is walking in front of an interactive background object.

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