12: Accessibility

12: Accessibility

How do you make your games more accessible for players?

 

 

When designing I try to take into consideration the recommendations of Meeple Like Us, especially the ones related to colour blindness. Most of the time this is seen as a publisher/artist job, but I do want my games to be accessible from the start. For example, I choose colours for the player pieces that don’t create confusion or if there’s a board/card or symbols I also check them with tools such as Colour Oracle.

Núria Casellas

Of course, there’s the usual: double coding (colour and symbol) on components, and watch out for common colour blind issues. But that’s more of a publisher concern.

The biggest thing a designer can do is make the rules intuitive, so the thing a player wants to do is the thing that’s legal, and hopefully also the thing that’s a good play.

I also try to make the language in my rules approachable. Game rules are technical documents, but people don’t read technical documents. The more relatable the language in the rules, the easier it is for players to learn the game.

Seth Jaffee

I always try to accommodate colour blindness by looking at my designs using a B&W filter (even at a prototype level). This helps me find the pieces that look the same barring colours and add small icons to differentiate these pieces. Many people are colour blind, that means some play testers must also be.

The other thing I find that helps is turning every possible thing from text into an icon. This not only helps people who can’t read English but also younger players and people to whom English is not a native language (like myself) who might read slower.

Pini Shekhter

The biggest thing a designer can do is make the rules intuitive, so the thing a player wants to do is the thing that’s legal, and hopefully also the thing that’s a good play. — Seth Jaffee

I’m dyslexic, and back in undergrad I used to think that I had to only design games for people who didn’t have learning disabilities. I would make things complicated because I thought that’s what people wanted. Now I find that if I design for myself and my needs, not only are more players able to participate, but my games are just flat out better. I also try to pay special attention to make sure colour is never the sole signifier of something in a game, since I want more games to be accessible to colour blind players.

Clio Davis

We make our games accessible by organising conventions and playoffs. We also visit schools to organise events too and also opened a boardgames online shop.

Kenechukwu Ogbuagu KC

All the board games we publish are gateway games and fit in a small box that can be carried around. We try to aim for a $25 or lower cost point and we love featuring a diverse cast of characters on our covers.

For role playing games, I prefer to write games that don’t require a lot of lore for new players to memorise and are quick and easy to pick up. I also integrate safety mechanics when running or writing larps or TTRPGs – the players are always more important than the game!

Banana Chan

I try to keep the rules simple and short. I don’t always respect it, but I try to have everything fit on one page for card games and lighter boardgames, and on two pages for heavier stuff. Also, I’m very bad at diagrams, but I’ve decided that if I need a diagram to explain a rule, it means that it’s too complex. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy playing more complex games that other people have designed.

Bruno Faidutti

I would make things complicated because I thought that’s what people wanted. Now I find that if I design for myself and my needs, not only are more players able to participate, but my games are just flat out better. — Clio Davis

There are several vectors of accessibility. I try to at least account for; cultural, time/ease, and disability accessibility. Cultural; when designing, ask, “Who is this being made for? Do others outside that core group feel welcome to play?” Time: “Can this be learned quickly and easily? Can it be played in shorter amounts of time?” (does not mean easy to win). Disability; examine if the game works for readability (fonts), colour blindness, deafness, physical coordination deficits.

Whitney “Strix” Beltrán

In order to make my games more accessible for players, I ask myself ‘What would Dr Michael Heron do?’ Michael’s website Meeple Like Us is an incredible resource for games designers, and as well as producing game reviews and game accessibility analyses, it serves to widen the debate about why accessibility matters.

Sam Illingworth

Accessibility is a complex thing and I don’t pretend to understand it well, especially the nuances of visual and component design. I do work to create games that can be enjoyed by a great variety of people – I love hearing that families enjoy a game, or that someone’s mom loves to play, because that means that the design didn’t push them away or punish them for not being enough of a gamer.

Roberta Taylor

Accessibility is a broad concept that I genuinely struggle with. If maximum inclusivity is the goal, then we should consider everything from mental, cognitive & physical disabilities (colour blindness and dyslexia being the classic board game design considerations) to cultural and ideological beliefs. However, in creating satirical, subversive and potentially controversial games, if I were to honour all the above it would have a drastically neutering effect; I’d possibly not design another game again. That might be great news for some, but probably not for the hobby/creative form as a whole if we all tend towards a utopian, anodyne centre.

Andrew Sheerin

When designing, ask, “Who is this being made for? Do others outside that core group feel welcome to play?” — Whitney “Strix” Beltrán

Build from familiar conventions, but find a clever twist. Watch people play. Change rules to allow them to do the things that they want to do in the game i.e. chase the fun! Match the gameplay to the theme, so gameplay is intuitive. Remove exceptions and edge cases. Write the rules – this can reveal previously unrecognised complexity. Keep an eye on the publishers’ rules: poor translation and rushed rulebooks can kill a game for new players. Keep production costs low; and consider ways to enhance table presence.

Adam Porter

I double-code colours with symbols, use larger and clear fonts and use high contrast between text and a simple background to make our games visually accessible. In the rules, I use they/them or you to keep it gender neutral. So far, we have crafted our narratives to not use any specific people, but human characteristics so that anyone can connect into the game’s story. This is a different take than making specific people of diversity, which is more commonly done. I’m not sure how successful we’re going to be, but we’ll see.

Sarah Reed

I try to make them as much accessible as I am able to do. I try to avoid components with text, making it more visual with the help of icons. I try to make my prototypes as friendly as possible for testers, so they can really focus on the game rules instead of the components. And ultimately, I try to test my prototypes with colour blind testers.

Eloi Pujadas

I’d consider my games highly accessible, as all 4 of my self published games have been online releases as free print and play and Tabletop Simulator mods. With over 10000 downloads overall, anyone who wants to play or create a copy of my game can do so. This has been great as many of my fans are anime fans first, and have not even been exposed to the hobby game market yet. I’m a strong proponent of free, well formatted print and plays and TTS mods, especially as games get more and more expensive.

Brother Ming

Build from familiar conventions, but find a clever twist. Watch people play. Change rules to allow them to do the things that they want to do in the game. — Adam Porter

I come back to ‘Theme’ all the time (given that the theme is where I start with a design) and like to use that as the connecting membrane between the mechanisms: if the process is logical and consistent within the subject then you’re half-way to accessibility. There are also universally-adopted standards for physical presentation of game information which one should ignore at one’s peril; this, I believe, is a consequence of a small number of superlative artists / graphic designers (Klemens Franz, Ian O’Toole) who work on the most successful games and lay the path for others to follow.

Tony Boydell

I keep card text short, exceptions rare, and try to minimise on the number of ‘bits’ in the box. The more elegant a game, the broader the potential audience; it’s no longer excluding non-gamers, younger players, or anyone who has difficulty processing complex interactions.

Peter Hayward

I really believe that people should see themselves reflected in the games they play. For that reason, I create games that allow the inexperienced player to play successfully, while still challenging experienced players. This allows for a more varied play group. I’m also dedicated to making our games accessible to as many people as I can. Therefore the characters in my games must reflect people from the real world through illustrations.

Helaina Cappel

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