Blindfold Pinball

When the first visually impaired person asked for a pinball game, I didn’t understand why he would want such a game.  By the tenth request, I started thinking it was a good idea.  After 25 people asked for it, I decided to do it.


From what the blind testers told me, a pinball machine is fun because the sounds are interesting, and, except for knowing when to push the flippers, sighted people have no advantage in playing pinball.  Ball movement is random, and except for trying to tilt the machine, you have very little control.  I knew that when I built the game, I would need to give audio cues so a blind player knows when to push the flippers.

I started by creating a pinball machine with about 8 bumpers, and a left and right channel for the ball to fall into, that leads to the left and right flippers.  To fire the ball, you drag one finger from the top to the bottom, as if you are pulling the launch plunger.  You hear clicks as you pull the plunger, and the ball is fired to the top of the machine, and bounces around for a while.  You hear the clacks,  clangs, dings and dongs, as the pinball hits each bumper and scoring points.

When a pinball rolls into the flipper channel, and is headed for the flippers, the game counts down for you, so you know exactly when to press the flipper button.  Just prior to the flipper, the game says “three”.  When the ball touches the flipper, the game says “two”, and when its at the tip of the flipper, the game says “one”.  You tap the screen, and the flipper shoots the ball back up to the top again.

Just like a real pinball machine, the more you score, the more extra balls you earn.  If the pinball is rolling down the middle of the machine,  just between the two flippers, there’s nothing you can do.  And if the ball gets stuck, just shake the phone a little, to nudge the ball back into play.  If you shake the phone too much, you get a TILT, and you lose the game.

I created several pinball machines, where the overall bumper layout is the same, but the bumper sounds were different.  As of this blog, the game has 13 different machine sound packs, such as animal sounds, outer space sounds, rude body sounds, scary sounds, sailboat sounds, wild west sounds, and funny voices.

You can download the game here:







Blindfold Fireworks

One of the simplest games I’ve built was inspired by watching and listening to the July 4th fireworks last year.  Since July 4th is just around the corner, Blindfold Fireworks should become popular again.

fireworks display in night sky

Here’s what one person told me: “I love the Blindfold Fireworks. I enjoy conducting my own audio fireworks display. This is awesome! I also enjoy the sounds as the rockets fly through the air.”

The game is so simple, even a toddler can use it.  Each time you tap on the screen, you hear a short explosion, about two to four seconds long.  Tap with two fingers for a longer explosion.  Swipe up for a short whistle or rocket launch.  Swipe down for a longer whistle and rocket launch.

Swipe left to ignite a sparkler, and swipe right to drop that sparkler into a bucket of water.  Fire safety, after all, is important.

Listen to this 30 second display put together by a Blindfold Fireworks expert:

Once your show is over, you’ll hear the crowd scream and applaud your fireworks show.  To download the app, tap here:


Blindfold Games: Thank You e-Card (Updated)

I just received this audio eCard sent with Blindfold Greeting from Lydia A.  It’s nice to hear from the game fans – her card is about a minute and a half minute long.

Thank You Note

Listen here:

Another fan, Debbie C.,  wrote me saying “I am totally blind and reside near Melbourne, Australia. I recently purchased Fireworks and love it! Today, after having trialled Oppoly, I bought the bundle.  I like the choice of country (for the game board layout). That is a good initiative!”

I get a few “Thank You” emails like these each week.  If you like the games, please let me know.  If you don’t, tell me what bothers you, and perhaps we can collaborate and improve them.

You can see a list of all Blindfold Games here:

Blindfold Monopoly: What’s a good trade?

The game that was requested more than any other game, when I did a survey about a year ago, was Monopoly.

Monopoly banker

For those of you living under a rock, Monopoly is a board game that originated in the United States in 1903 as a way to demonstrate that an economy which rewards wealth creation is better than one in which monopolists work under few constraints and to promote the economic theories of Henry George, and in particular his ideas about taxation.  Since the board game was first commercially sold in the 1930s, it has become a part of popular world culture, having been locally licensed in more than 103 countries and printed in more than thirty-seven languages.

With many games, I research open-source games, and look at the programming code written by other software engineers.  I study how they approached the game on a computer, such as Windows or Mac.  Sometimes a programmer had a great idea on how to present the game, and I can translate what they’ve created into an audio equivalent.

With Monopoly, the game rules are straightforward, the board layout is well known, so other people’s programs didn’t really help.  Almost all of the games I found were designed for people to play against each other; I wanted to find one where you played against a competent computer opponent.  I evaluated over 30 different open source Monopoly programs, and while some of them did let you play against a computer, it played horrendously.

I stumbled upon a master thesis written about 20 years ago, where the researcher came up with strategies for a greedy player,  an evil player, a cheap player, an extravagant player, and for fun, a stupid player.  The differences relate to what types of properties they collect, how often them build houses, how often they mortgage properties, and how they decide which properties to trade.

When I started testing the game, called Blindfold Oppoly, I let you pick which types of players are in the game.  The testers told me that the players were too predictable, and they found it easy to come up with a strategy to win against each player type.

I created a “wise” player that took the best features of each of the four player types, and randomly set which tendencies each computer player would have.  Most times, the wise player makes the best possible move, but sometimes he reverts back to a tendency.  That made the game far more interesting.

While I’ll describe some of the features of the game in another blog, what I found fascinating was reading blogs about when to how to make a good a trade in Monopoly.  Apparently, a trade only makes sense if you end up with a monopoly with rents higher than your opponent.  If you need a monopoly, and you end up with lower rents in the trade, you must get sufficient additional cash to handle landing on their hotel several times.  In addition, it makes sense to mortgage everything you own to achieve your monopolistic goals.

You can download Blindfold Oppoly here:


Blindfold Bowling’s Birthday

Blindfold Bowling was created about 2 years ago, and it continues to be one of the most popular Blindfold Games.  If you follow my blog, you’ve probably read some testimonials from people who rediscovered bowling through this game, or play the game when they aren’t bowling in their blind bowling league.

person bowling

With visual bowling apps – where you see the action on the screen – you position yourself by moving your finger left and right  a picture of the bowling alley on your phone, and then you swipe in the direction you want the ball to move.

In Blindfold Bowling –  an audio game – you position yourself by moving your finger left and right.  The game tells you where are: when your finger is on the left edge of the phone, a woman says five.  As you move your finger towards the center, the woman counts down to 1, then says “center’, then a man starts counting up from 1 to 5, where 5 is the right edge of the phone.

I asked the gamers how they wanted to choose the angle to throw the ball.  I got back so many different alternatives, the game comes with 3 methods.  The simplest is a straight throw.  After you position yourself, you swipe up.  The ball travels straight towards the pins.  It’s very easy, and it’s a great way for someone to learn how to play Blindfold Bowling.

If you want to pick an angle, you can use “One Finger Aim and Throw”.  First, position yourself on the bowling alley as described above, pause briefly, then, to aim, flick in the direction that you want the ball to go.

To be even more accurate in your bowling, use the “Two Finger Aim and Throw”.  Position yourself using your thumb (not your forefinger), and then touch your fore-finger on the screen, and rotating your finger left and right (while you keep your thumb in the same spot) until you have ball aimed exactly where you want.  Finally, pause briefly, then flick your fore-finger.

While everyone seemed to like these three methods, I did get a lot of fans requesting another method.  Like the Wii device for playing games on a TV, they wanted to swing their arm as if they were bowling with the phone, instead of a bowling ball.  My fear was that people would be tossing their phones across the room.  I could just imagine the number of emails I would get telling me how much they loved the game, but now they needed a new iPhone.  Maybe I should sell a wrist strap to go with the phone, if I ever add that feature.

You can download Blindfold Bowling here:



Blindfold Family Feud

It’s not actually called Family Feud like the TV Game show; instead, it’s entitled Blindfold Feud.

Family Feud game board showing joint answer

TV Game shows are the most popular category of games that I’ve built.  Spin and Solve, inspired by Wheel of Fortune, has almost as many players as Blindfold Bowling or Blindfold Racer, the two most popular games.

With Family Feud, you must come up with answers to questions that are not necessarily correct, but are popular.  In a recent Family Feud episode, the host put up the question “What is something that people like to pass around”, and the most popular answer was “a joint”.  Other answers included a lighter, sickness, thanksgiving dinner and yard tools.  You win points based on how popular your answer was.

Typing the most popular answer in Blindfold Feud couldn’t work, because there are so many different ways to express the same thing (“a joint”, “marijuana”, “weed”), and it would be very difficult for the game to determine if your answer is the same as the popular answer.

Instead, I created several game variants.  The ranking game, shows you a list of answers, and you must pick the most popular answer; you win points based on the answer’s popularity.  If 70% of the people picked “joint”, you would win 70 points.  Your turn continues until you get a wrong answer, and then your computer opponent goes.

The testers suggested adding guessing game, where you guess the answer after being told the first letter.

If the question is “Name Something A Parent Reminds Kid Use At Summer Camp”, the popular answers are Toothbrush, Sunscreen, and Soap.  The game reads you the question, tells you there are 3 answers, and tells you that one answer that begins with the letter “T”, and the other two answers begin with the letter “S”.  When you type the letters “T”, “O”, and “O”, you get credit for the “Toothpaste” answer, and win points.

I purchased a list of questions and answers, added a computer opponent whose skill you can vary, and released the game as Blindfold Feud.  You can download it here:

Blindfold Games: Little things matter

I receive many emails thanking me for the games, many expressing surprise about how many games there are, and telling me how much fun they have playing the games.

suggestion box

Kimberly R. wrote to me about the Euchre card game,  saying “I love, love, love this game. It has helped me grow more confident when playing with others in person around the card table.   I’d like to thank you for making this and many more games so myself and others who are blind can have games to play on our phones.

I don’t think it’s simply that the games exist and are accessible that makes the games popular.   It’s that the testers, who are all visually impaired, as well as the fans, tell me how game should be enhanced, and I listen.

For example, in Blindfold Pinball, the testers told me to create  a “Learn Bumper Sounds” screen.  Pinball has over many different sound packs, where each sound pack is a different pinball machine, such as a wild-west pack, an animal pack, and  a body pack (including burps and farts).  The “Learn Bumper Sound” screen tells you which sound corresponds to which bumper, and its point score, as the pinball bounces around the pinball machine.  Knowing the sounds helps you know when to hit the flipper, so the ball is shot as high as possible to score more points.

In Blindfold Invaders, testers suggested that I create a “Learn Sounds” screen so people can identify each of the 14 sounds they will hear during the game.  Even though the sounds are described in the user guide, the testers told me that having a menu of the sounds, such as “Incoming missile from invader”, or “invaders moving left” or “right edge warning” would make the game easier to understand.

Blindfold Barnyard initially told you where the animals are situated using compass directions, such as “The closest pig is to the northeast”.   In the game, to get to the pig, you  slide your finger to the upper left.  The testers said I should add clock directions as an alternative, since many visually impaired people use clock directions instead of compass directions.  In this mode, the game now says “The closest pig is at 2 o’clock”.

It’s these little things that make a difference between a good game and a great game, and I really appreciate the feedback, so I can continue to improve the games.

Blindfold Travel Cards

Some of you may have played the game “Mille Bornes” when you were growing up.  The game was created in 1954 by Edmond Dujardin, and was quite similar to the earlier American automotive card game Touring.   Parker Brothers acquired the American license in 1965, was eventually acquired by Hasbro.  It was one of the most popular games in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and is still sold today.

mille bornes french cards

In Mille Bornes, you are in a road race based on playing the cards in your hand. The first player to complete 700 miles wins.  There are hazard, remedy, safety, and distance cards. Each hazard is corrected by a corresponding remedy, and is actually prevented from happening in the first place by a corresponding safety.  The 700 miles is reached by playing distance cards.

I received many requests to create a Blindfold variant of this game, and published Blindfold Road Trip about 18 months ago.  You can play against one to three computer opponents, and as you play each card, you hear sound effects for that card: the “200 mile” card sounds like a car speeding by, the “flat tire” card sounds like a tire leaking air, the “go” card sounds like an engine starting and the “repair” card is reminiscent of an automobile body shop.

Blindfold Road Trip was hit, and people asked for more variants of the game, using airplanes, space ships or boats.  The trick to building other versions of the game was to not break the overall game logic, and still allow the computer opponents to play intelligently.  And I needed to do this without rewriting the game for each type of transportation.

First, I renamed the game to Blindfold Travel Cards.

The basic automobile game has 7 distance cards: 25, 50, 75, 100 and 200 miles.  Looking at this another way, if the slowest distance card is the value “X”, the distance cards have values: X, 2X, 3X, 4X and 8X.  Then there are 4 hazards, 4 repairs for those hazards, and 4 super cards to protect you from the hazards.

I modified the automobile game to create a sailing game using the above principles.  The slowest sailing speed is 2 knots.  Hence, the distance cards are: 2, 4, 6, 8 and 16 knots.  I created 4 hazards, such as a ripped sail or broken rudder, repairs for each, and super cards.  I bought some cool sound effects, and launched the game: you can play it with either an automobile or a sailboat.

Next, I created the train game.  The slowest train speed is 10 kilometers per hour, so the distance cards are 10, 20, 30, 40 and 80 kilometers.  The hazards include broken air brakes and out of coal, with repairs and super cards for each.  Mix-in some sound effects, create an instruction guide, and the train game was ready.

You can download Blindfold Travel Cards here: