Blindfold Dealer Poker Games

About a year ago, I talked about why building a poker game is difficult – poker is a multi-player game, and if there are no other players online to play with you, you can’t play.  Unlike poker apps built by the Las Vegas Casinos, there aren’t millions of visually impaired poker players ready to play.

poker hand and chips

I first created Blindfold Video Poker – it emulates Las Vegas style video poker machines.  One fan wanted more of a poker experience, so he sent me a link to an online poker site. At this site, instead of playing poker against other players, you play against a computer dealer with very strict rules, in one of 7 different games.

For example, in Three Card Poker, you start by making an initial bet.  Next you and the dealer are dealt three cards each, face-down.  After you look at your cards, you can either fold and lose the bet, or bet the same amount again.

Then you and the dealer show your cards.  If your hand is better, you win.  If the dealer’s hand is better, you lose.  If you won, and you had a good hand (like 3 of a kind), you can win several times what you originally bet.

There are two  side bets you can make in this game that makes it more interesting.  Regardless of who won, if you win one of the side bets, you can get a lot more money.

The side bet called “Pair Plus” pays you (even if you lost to the dealer) if you have a pair or better in your hand.  The best payout on Pair Plus bets is 40 to 1 for a straight flush.

The side bet called “6-Card Bonus” combines your three cards with the dealer’s three cards, and the best 5 cards out of those 6 cards determines the payoff.  A royal flush pays off at 1000 to 1.

When playing Three Card Poker included in Blindfold Video Poker, you must consider about 3 different strategies at once: beating the dealer, winning the Pair Plus bet, and winning the 6 Card Bonus bet.  We’ve added several Dealer Poker games like Three Card Poker to the Video Poker game, and we’ll be adding more.

Click to download the game:  Blindfold Video Poker



Blindfold Games: Braille #3

We looked at several ways to make Braille Spin and Solve easier for people just learning braille.  For example, we thought we could vary game difficulty by varying the number of contractions in a word.

braille finger reading braille text

Some words, like CANDY, have only one contraction, but other words, like ABBREVIATIONS, has two contractions in its contracted form.  It is quite difficult to write programming code to determine the number of contractions in the contracted form, since it’s not always clear which dot patterns belong to each contraction.

Speaking again with the braille teachers, we decided to break out the complexity of the game based on the following:

  • One full word contraction, such as “AF” for “AFTER”.
  • Only one of the words in the phrase being contracted and it contains only one contraction, such as CANDY in the phrase CANDY IS DANDY, BUT LIQUOR IS QUICKER.
  • Only one of the words in the phrase is contracted, but that word can contain multiple contractions, such as the word I’M BAFFLED, but only the word “BAFFLED” would be contracted.
  • Up to two words with contractions.
  • Up to 3, 4, or 5 words with contractions.
  • No limit to the number of words with contractions.

Now that the game player can pick her level of difficulty, we had to make it even easier to enter both letters, vowels, and dot patterns.

While the game does work with a braille display, we found most users do not have a braille display connected to their iPhone or iPad.  To enter a dot pattern, such as dot 1,2,3,4,6 for the fragment “AND”, you simply type the dot character, and the digits 1,2,3,4 and 6.  To guess the full word CANDY, you would enter the letter “C”, dot, 1,2,3,4,6, and the letter “Y”.

With those changes, everyone seemed to enjoy the game, and the game is gaining popularity amongst braille teachers at many of the schools for the blind.

Blindfold Games: 7 Tiny Words

Blindfold Word Games, which includes Hangman, Word Flick (similar to Boggle), Word Ladder and Unscramble, has built quite a following.  Recently, people have been asking for more games, and the first one I decided to tackle was 7 Little Words.

Seven Little Words is a game where the puzzle board is 20 squares laid out in 5 columns and 4 rows as seen here:

7 words grid


For each word, there’s a definition given, and you need to find that word by combining several word fragments together.  For example, in the above puzzle board, the definition “detects with one’s nose” would be the word SMELLS, by combining SME in the lower right corner with LLS in the lower left corner.

The game was fairly easy to create, since I already had a dictionary component that I’ve used in other games, including word ladder, and breaking up a word into different parts is rather complex.

If you have 7 words, and you want to break them into pieces to generate 20 word fragments, each fragment needs to be between 2 and 4 letters long.  Ideally, no fragment should give away the word, so you must break up the fragments differently from how the word is pronounced.  You also have to handle conditions where breaking up all of the words ends up generating more than 20 fragments, so you have to go back and find a different combination.  And you need to handle the condition where you have less than 20 fragments, and have to fill it in with useless fragments that don’t generate a alternate solution for the word definition.

Once I completed building that program, the rest of the game went quite smoothly.  You navigate by flicking up, down, left and right, and you select a fragment by double tapping.  Hints come in 3 varieties: the first letter of the word, the first fragment of the word, or the solution.  Like other games, you can post your scores to Twitter or Facebook.





Blindfold Games: Braille #2

Last week, I described why we picked Blindfold Spin and Solve as the starting point for a braille contractions game.

braille for words but, have, go, like

Blindfold Spin and Solve has over 12,000 phrases, such as “A BLESSING IN DISGUISE”.  To prepare the game to use contracted braille, I created a dictionary of all words in the phrases – about 8,000 of them – and used software created by Duxbury Systems to convert the word to its contracted form.  Thanks to Neal and several people at the Hadley school who helped with the conversion.

Next we had to come up with a set of rules on how to play the game.  In Blindfold Spin and Solve, you can either buy a vowel, or spin the wheel to determine your prize, and then guess a letter.  You can also guess the entire phrase.

In Braille Spin and Solve, you can buy a dot pattern, a vowel, or spin the wheel to determine your prize, and then guess a letter.  You can also guess the entire phrase.

As you swipe from word to word, the game tells you how many letters in the uncontracted word, and how many cells in the contracted form. If you remember from the prior blog, the contracted form of the word “CANDY” is the letter C, the dot pattern for the fragment “AND”, and the letter Y.  As you swipe on the word CANDY, the game tells you the contracted form has 3 cells, and the uncontracted form has 5 letters.

The game also gives you hints to make it easier.  If you guess a letter that’s not in the contracted word, but is in the uncontracted word, it tells you.  With the contracted form of the word “CANDY”, if you guess the letter “N”, the game tells you that the letter “N” is in the uncontracted form of the word, but it’s not in the puzzle.

We released the first version of Braille Spin and Solve to beta testers who taught braille, and they liked the general direction of the game.  However, they said it was way too hard, and requested that the game be easier for most people.

Blind Abilities Podcast: Who won the race?

Blind Abilities presents this follow up interview with Project Starfish after their successful completion of the first ever Blindfold Racer Championship.

Championship Logo

Join Jeff Thompson and Pete Lane and their guests, Nazreen, Labisha and Karl,  as they break down the challenges and achievements of this unique worldwide competition. The challenge spanned  60 countries and thousands of participants in the first undertaking of its kind in the blindness community. Hear about the workings of this huge undertaking and the true sense of community that it yielded.

Also, learn more about Project Starfish and how it might provide meaningful  career opportunities for ambitious and eager individuals.

Blindfold Games: Braille Spin & Solve

When I was invited to talk to a group of people at the Hadley School for the Blind, two people suggested I create a game that uses braille contractions.

braille alphabet

In braille, there are 6 dot positions, where each letter corresponds to a different combination of dots.  For example, the letter “A” is dot position 1, and the letter “R” is dot positions 1,2,3 and 5.  Because braille takes up much more space than printed letters, books may be 5 to 10 times as large.

To solve that, contracted braille offers a shorthand for commonly used words or word fragments.  The single word “AF”, represented by the braille dots for the letter “A” followed by the braille dots for the letter “F” translates to the word “AFTER”.  The braille dots 1,2,3,4 and 6 translates to the fragment “AND”, which can be used in the word CANDY.  The contracted braille for CANDY is: dots 1,4 for the letter “C”, dots 1,2,3,4,6 for the fragment “AND” and the dots 1,3,4,5,6 for the letter “Y”.

The ideas was to convert one of the Blindfold Games to accommodate braille contractions. The first step was to determine the purpose of the game.  Should it be a teaching tool, or a practice tool?

I talked with several people active in promoting and teaching Braille, and we concluded that a practice tool would be preferred  over a teaching tool, since each school for the blind uses their own curriculum, and each teaches concepts in a different order.  The target audience would be people who already learned braille (either UEB or AEB), and simply want to practice their skills.

We looked at the 50 Blindfold Games that are available on the iPhone and iPad, and concluded that either Blindfold Word Games or Blindfold Spin and Solve would be the most appropriate.  Since so many people enjoy Spin and Solve – a variant of Wheel of Fortune – we chose Spin and Solve.

Next time – converting 12,000 phrases to braille.

Blindfold Games: User Guides now online

A friend from down under suggested I put many of the user guides online, since he found it easier to read a user guide from his PC instead of his phone.  This way, he can use his braille display to read the user guide, or listen to the user guide with a screen-reader, at the same time as he is playing the game.

User guides for almost  all of the 50 games are available at this link:

Blindfold Games User Guides

If you have ideas for more games, please contact me.




Blindfold Spin & Solve: What just happened?

This is the third blog about Spin & Solve.

game board

While the game itself became quite popular – it was the 2nd most popular game after Blindfold Bowling, many people told me that when the computer picked a letter, and the game told them that letter was used 3 times, they had no idea where that letter was used.

If you are playing Wheel of Fortune on TV, you see each word where the letter was used.  To get that same information from Spin and Solve, you had to swipe down with 2 fingers and listen to each word.  If the word was is “CANDY”, and the letters “C” and “N” were already found, the games says “C”, blank, “N”, blank, blank.  If all the letters were found, the game would say “candy”.

I added a feature to the game that whenever the computer picked correctly, it would tell you which word and say the word.

The final step was to add more phrases.  The original version included about 1,200 phrases.  I create bundles of about 2,500 phrases each – for a total of about 12,000 phrases –  that you can buy as an in-app upgrade.  I added the ability to post your winnings to Facebook or Twitter (like in all the other Blindfold Games), and limited the number of turns each player gets, so one player cannot dominate the game.

I’ll be using this game as the basis for another game relating to Braille contractions, and that will be in a future blog.


Blindfold Games: October Update

I often get asked for a list of games that we’ve built.  Here’s the current list, from the newest to the oldest.

Click on the game to go directly to the iTunes download page.  All games are designed for rapid audio play and have been built with the help of dozens of visually impaired gamers.

Blindfold Cat and Mouse – A two player card game similar to solitaire, but much easier.

Braille Spin and Solve – Practice your braille contractions. Inspired by Wheel of Fortune, spin to guess a letter or a contraction in the phrase and win.

Blindfold Greeting Card – Create and send your own audio cards to friends and family.

Blindfold RS Games – 19 different multi-player games, played by thousands of people on Windows and Mac, are now available on the iPhone and iPad.

Blindfold Sound Search – Matching game using Common Animals, Asian Animals, National Anthems, Musical Instruments and Everyday Sounds.

Blindfold Basketball – Grab the ball and start shooting.  Great sound effects!

Blindfold Bird Songs – Find that Bird and Match that bird – two great games for learning bird songs.

Blindfold Checkers – Play checkers with easy, medium or expert opponents.

Phrase Madness – Famous as a windows game, now on the iPhone and iPad.  Match the phrases and laugh your socks off.

Blindfold Pinball – Play pinball on diffferent pinball machines.

Blindfold Pool – Play pool by hitting your cue ball into the other balls, and landing them in the pockets.  Hours and hours of fun.

Blindfold Spin and Solve – Inspired by Wheel of Fortune, spin to guess a letter in the phrase and win.

Blindfold Shuffleboard  – Slide your discs into the scoring area, and push your opponents discs out of the way.

Blindfold Road Trip– Be the first player to drive 1000 miles in this card game similar to 1000 miles or Miles Bornes.

Blindfold Bingo – Play bingo with lots of patterns. Win coins. Record yourself saying Bingo and share it.

Blindfold Crazy Eights with Friends – Crazy Eights card game with with other people, via Game Center or in the same room.

Blindfold Barnyard– Move your animals from the barnyard to the fence to the barn. It’s addicting!

Blindfold Word Games– Hangman, Word Ladder, Scramble and Word Flick.

Blindfold Horse Race– Race against other horses by walking your fingers on the screen.

Blindfold Juggle– Juggle animals on earth and other planets.

Blindfold Color Crush – A cross between Bejeweled and Candy Crush.

Blindfold Rummy – Gin Rummy card game – collect sets and runs of cards.

Blindfold Tile Puzzle – Tile games including 2048 and Threes, with several variations.

Blindfold Vee Ball – Just like Skee ball: Roll a ball up a ramp to land in the highest point hole.

Blindfold Craps – Dice game where you bet on the outcome of a dice roll, just like in Las Vegas.

Blindfold Air Hockey – Air Hockey – use your mallet to shoot the puck into your opponent’s goal.

Blindfold Breakout – Breakout game where you smash bricks with a ball, similar to the arcade game.

Blindfold Bowling – Ten pin bowling just like at the bowling alley.

Blindfold Roulette – Play roulette just like in Las Vegas.

Blindfold Hopper – Inspired by the old video game frogger.

Blindfold Pong – Pong game similar to the classic arcade game.

Blindfold Dominoes -Dominoes game where you play until you are out of tiles or blocked.

Blindfold Hearts – Hearts card game where you avoid collecting hearts or you can shoot the moon.

Blindfold Simon – My Simon type game where you follow patterns based on gestures and sounds.

Blindfold Spades – Spades card game where you bid and collect tricks as you win each hand.

Blindfold War – The classic war card game where you try to collect all the cards.

Blindfold Solitaire – Solitaire card games including Klondike, Spider, Free Cell, Golf and many others.

Blindfold Wildcard – An Uno type card game.

Blindfold Crazy Eights – Crazy Eights card game with several variants of play.

Blindfold Video Poker – Video Poker just like the machines in Las Vegas.

Blindfold Blackjack – Play Blackjack against the dealer.

Blindfold Sudoku – Audio Sudoku in a 9 by 9 grid, with easy, medium and hard levels.

Blindfold Sudoku Mini – Audio Sudoku in a 4 by 4 grid, lots of fun and great for people who never played Sudoku before.

Blindfold Cryptogram – Decode famous quotes and phrases in a letter substitution game

Blindfold Racer – Drive your car using your ears, not your eyes.  The original game that started all of this.

Blindfold Roulette

Since Blindfold Blackjack and Blindfold Video Poker was so popular, and I didn’t want to create a Slot Machine game – several accessible slot machine games already exist – I decided to take a look at Roulette.

roulette table

Roulette is a simply game, in that you pick a one or two numbers to bet on, you spin a wheel and a ball, and if the ball lands on the number when the wheel stops, you win.

When you place a bet, you can pick one or more numbers, or red or black  (half the numbers are red, half are black), or odd numbers, or even numbers, or groups of numbers. The wheel has numbers from 1 to 36, and the number zero.  When the ball lands on the individual number you picked, your win 35 times what you bet.  When the ball lands on one of the numbers in the group of numbers you picked, you bet can vary from 1 to 1 (for even or odd) up to about 8 to 1 (for a group of 3 numbers).

Creating the wheel was easy: I found some great wheel spinning and ball rolling sounds, and built several types of wheels.  I learned that Roulette can use different wheels – one for American Roulette and one for French Roulette, and they differ on the number of zero or double zeros on the wheel.  There are also wheels with the alphabet.

The harder part of the game was how to place a bet.  In Roulette, not only can you make a bet as described above, but you can make a bet based on the layout of the betting table.  For example, the betting table has 3 columns of numbers: first column from 1 to 12, second column from 13 to 24 and the third column from 25 to 36.  When you place your chip at the top of the column, it means you want to bet all the numbers in the column.  When you place you chip to the left  of a row, such as the row 1, 13, 25, it means you want to bet those 3 numbers.  Or you can be in groups of 6 or 18, and so on.  All in all, there are probably over 50 betting combinations.

The game has been pretty popular, with only Blindfold Blackjack and Blindfold Video Poker being download by more people.