Blindfold Games: Juggling

The video game Pong is the great grand-father of most video games over the past 50 years, and many games are derived from Pong.  The original was created by Nolan Bushnell, and was inspired by an electronic tennis he had played on a computer in 1964 while attending college.


I created Blindfold Pong last year, and it works by moving your phone left and right, trying to keep the ball sound in the center of your head.  As the ball gets closer, if its sound is centered between your ears, the ball will hit your paddle and bounce to your opponent.  I enhanced Blindfold Pong into Blindfold Breakout and Blindfold Air Hockey, and then took it in a new direction – Blindfold Juggling.

How are these games the same?  Breakout is just Pong with bricks that make noise when you hit them.  Air Hockey is the same as Pong, except you can make the puck go faster and angle it more based on where your paddle hits the puck, and the sounds are different.  Juggle is the same as Pong, but instead of things moving horizontally across a table, the ball moves up and down.

Blindfold Juggle started out very easily, by juggling balls, where each ball had a different sound.  The testers said that was too boring, so I switched from balls to animals, like horses, cows and birds, and the goal of the game was to keep all of the animals in the air at once.

To make it more challenging, one tester suggested making the lighter animals, like a canary, be tossed higher than a heavy animal, like a whale.  Another suggested letting you choose which animals you want to toss, and a third tester asked for changing the gravity.  Now you can toss cows, horses and frogs on the Earth, the Moon, or Jupiter (or any of the other planets).

The final step in changing Pong to Juggle was to let you flick your wrist to toss the animal, instead of simply lining up the paddle with the falling animal.  When the animal is really close, you hear a ding-ding sound, and then you flick your wrist to toss the animal back to the sky.  The faster you flick, the higher the animal goes.

Grade school teachers tell me that they use Blindfold Juggle to demonstrate the concept of planets having different gravity.





Judy Dixon’s Accessible Game Book

If you are visually impaired, and you are not familiar with all of the games available on mobile devices, check out her recent book from the National Braille Press “Anyone can play: Accessible Games of the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch“.

Front cover of book

The book is divided into seven chapters:

  1. Competitive Games: This chapter describes the Game Center that can be found on every iDevice and a few games that can be played against others through the Game Center.
  2. Word Games: These are games based on words or letters. It features games that provide clues to either guess or construct the word.
  3. Card Games: These are mostly traditional card games, ranging from many types of solitaire games to multiplayer games. In the multiplayer games, the game can simulate opponents, or you can play against real opponents.
  4. Adventure Games: These are games where the player is presented with a scenario and can interact with the world by issuing commands or by making choices.
  5. Strategy Games: For the most part, these are traditional puzzles and board games requiring a strategic approach to accomplish the object of the game.
  6. Role-Playing Games: In these games, the player chooses a character with certain traits. The player communicates with others assuming the traits of the chosen character.
  7. Sports Games: These are action games, many of which will have you out of your chair and moving around to play the game as a single player or against an opponent.


Blindfold Boggling

Over the past two years, I’ve had a several requests for the word game Boggle and Scrabble.  It wasn’t clear to me how to do a good Scrabble game where you play against the computer, since the computer has access to a dictionary, and that seems like an unfair advantage.

4 by 4 board of letter cubes

Boggle, on the other hand, appeared more realistic, and there are many variants of Boggle so that a sightly different game could be created without violating the Boggle copyright.

If you are unfamiliar with Boggle, it’s a set of cubes arrange in a 4 by 4 pattern.  Each cube has 6 letters on it (one letter per side), and you spin all the cubes, so that you get a random pattern of letters.  From the letters, you must form words that are at least 3 letters long.  For example, a Boggle board could have the following letter combination:



F  I R L


You can form a word by connecting adjacent letters, above, below, left, right, or diagonal, and you cannot use a letter cube twice in the same word.  For example, USE and SEA can be created on the second line, FUSE can be created from the first letter of the third line, and the first three letters of the second line, and SUM can be created by the 2nd and 1st letter of the second line, and the first letter of the first line, and SIR by the third letter of the fourth one, and the 2nd and 3rd letter of the third line.

The first step in building Boggle was to create an algorithm to determine all of the valid words.  I found several master’s thesis by people solving this problem; the easiest solution for a computer is to take all of the 3 letters words in its dictionary, and then attempt to find them in the puzzle, then take all of the 4 letter words, and so on.  It’s not how a person would solve the puzzle, but it does work, and on an iPhone, it can be done in under a second, using a dictionary of over 40,000 words.

We created a 4 by 4 version of Boggle, with some changes from the original game, and called it Word Flick.  We did a 5 by 5 version as well, and came up with several more variants.  To win the game, you try to get as many words as you can; the longer the word, the more points you score.

This game has become the basis for our Word Games app, that contains Hangman, Word Ladder, Word Flick and Unscramble.  More on those games in a future blog.





Blindfold Games: February Summary

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

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

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

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

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.