A few months ago, I got into a protracted discussion with a handful of blind gamers complaining that Blindfold Games did not work well with braille displays.
A braille display, when connected to an iPhone or an iPad, lets you type using a braille keyboard, as well as read what’s on the screen using a line of braille letters. Some braille displays will show only 12 letters at a time, otherwise can show up to 80 letters.
They wanted the games to work entirely using the braille display, instead of making gestures on screen, such as swiping up, or tapping twice. I was initially reluctant to add braille display to the games. I thought that was simply preference issue: some gamers like braille displays and some like using the iPhone screen. Also, from what I learned, most of the blind people who play the games don’t own a braille display for their iPhone. Braille displays cost from $500 to $3000.
Then I heard from some blind people who were either also deaf or had mobility limitations and wanted to play the games; they felt excluded. We talked for several weeks, and they convinced me of the need to add braille display support to the games.
When adding a major feature like this, it’s important to design it properly, so that feature can be included into many of the games. Scott and Shanda – two of the people I spoke with – suggested I start with Blindfold Wildcard. Wildcard is a variant of Uno, and it’s a pretty simple game. We came up with an alternate game screen, and kept improving it until it played as smoothly with the braille display as with the normal version.
The second game we improved was Blindfold Travel Cards. Travel Cards is a variant of the Miles Bornes card game, and its one of the most popular card games in the Blindfold series. Travel Cards is far more complex than Wildcard: in Wildcard, you have one action – playing a card, and you have a set of cards in your hand. In Travel Cards, you have several actions, and there are several stacks of cards on the playing table. It took a few weeks to get it perfect and we released in it January.
Scott and Shanda asked for Oppoly next. Blindfold Oppoly is a variant of Monopoly, and is even more complex than Travel Cards. It took about five versions to get it right, and we just completed the game in early Feburary.
We plan to add braille display support to many more of the Blindfold Games. If you use a braille display with your iPhone or iPad, and there’s a game you would like to be added, please contact me.
For Blindfold Wildcard, tap here:
For Blindfold Travel Cards, tap here:
For Blindfold Oppoly, tap here: