Gaming For The Blind

Adaptive tech has come a long, long way since I was younger. A lot of it is insanely helpful, much of it practical in day to day life.

But that isn’t as much fun as gaming is, right? So let’s talk about that.

On the surface, gaming seems like the sort of thing that the blind can’t readily participate in, but there’s some pretty good ones. All of the games I play are on my phone. There are some that are great for PC’s, but my machine isn’t really set up for that, so I stick with those for the phone. Right now, IOS definitely has the lead in this, a lot of the things I play are IOS only, though I believe that Android is gaining ground. Some of them are outright designed for the blind, and some weren’t, but have developers that figured out how to make them accessible and diligently worked to make them so.

Land of Livia is a “idle RPG” style game. That means that it was designed to be played at intervals, so you don’t have to sit in one place for hours. You can pick it up when you have a spare moment, set something up, and then go be productive. You are essentially a humble farmhand who sets out to figure out why rain isn’t falling anymore, though you progress beyond that point and move on to more epic style storylines. This game is quest and riddle based. You get clues, travel around to different locations and undertake quests. Initially, these are quick little five minute quests, but you progress past that pretty quickly until the quests take 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, etc. That is where the “idle” part comes in. There are two mini-games within the games, though, that can be used to eat up some unclaimed time. Once you start your quest, you just have to wait for it to finish. It’s pretty great, and the first chapter is free, which comes out to a week or more of play. You do have to pay after that, but only a few dollars. Currently there is the free intro chapter and two more paid ones.

Another similar game is Timecrest. I call it similar, because it’s another “pick up and do something then put it down again” style game, though the play is quite different. In fact, this one is actually quite clever. You are playing yourself. The premise is that a young person named Ash has magically contacted you via your phone, tablet or watch from a different land. You advise Ash on what they should do, but it turns out that you, or possibly your phone, has a bit of magic yourself. This one comes with music and some sound effects, and it is surprisingly immersive. It is completely free to play, though you can buy some extras You absolutely do not need to buy a thing to play the game, though. This one has two parts, so far. Unlike Land of Livia, though, you do get to choose your path. It’s very choose your own adventure in that you can go back to make different choices. I find the music in this to be occasionally lovely, despite it being completely digital. One thing about Timecrest that I was impressed by is that they didn’t gender Ash. Nothing, at any point, indicates whether Ash is a boy or a girl, you can basically decide for yourself what sort of gender they are.

Both of the above were not actually developed for the blind, but adapted. You can definitely play them with your eyes.

Feer is a pretty basic endless runner style of game, and you cannot use your eyes. It was designed for the blind, but sighted folks can obviously play it, too. It’s pretty straightforward. You’re a blind person running and trying to avoid zombies and save some fairies, with power ups like weapons, speed boosts, shields and something that doubles the fairy lights you collect. It’s free, though I believe there is a different setting you can buy that changes from zombie to technological threats.

A Blind Legend is perhaps the closest I’ve ever found to being a video game that has no video. It was developed in France, and originally was in French, but has been translated to English. Like Feer, you need headphones to do this one right. You are playing a blind knight. Guided by your sighted daughter Louise, you have to save your wife and fight off enemies. It has voice actors, music, realistic sound effects and the whole nine yards. Production value is higher than I’m used to seeing, but the game is free. It does have some downsides, though. For one thing, it is not an easy game. I haven’t beaten it yet. There is also swearing, I can think of at least one F bomb. There is also one unfortunate instance where you slap Louise for disobeying you. It’s in a cut scene, so you can’t avoid it. Makes me a bit uncomfortable. Not for children, obviously.

Diceworld is, unsurprisingly, a dice playing game. Actually, it’s several games. This is the only multiplayer one I’ve tried, since you can compete against other users. It has things like Yahtzee, Pig and the like. You can just play the computer, you can play one on one with others, or you can enter tournaments. You have a starting level of gold, and though you can buy more, you are honestly better off just winning more by playing. This is one of those adapted for the blind, not built for the blind ones.

Frequency Missing was a short but interesting game. Like A Blind Legend, it has voice actors and sound effects, but it was designed to be seen to be played. They rather cleverly found a way for the blind to navigate it too, though. When I say it’s short, I mean it. I solved it in an hour or two, but hey, it was free and entertaining while it lasted. You are a new reporter trying to figure out the mystery of a missing coworker.

I’ve tried others, but the above are the ones I’ve stuck with. I will mention a few that only briefly amused me, though.

Crafting Kingdom essentially takes the crafting part of RPG’s and only does that. I think you start by creating logs. You can use the logs to make lumber, then you get to ladders, shovels, etc, which you can then use to make other things. You can set up a complex series of things that rely on one another. You can’t make a ladder without two things, for example. It was briefly fun, but it palled soon.

Blind Millionaire was “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” via text only. It was fun for about thirty minutes, then I got bored.

Blind Hopper was a lot like Frogger but with sound. I think you had to start paying after maybe five tries. I didn’t enjoy it enough to pay for it. There are a whole series of those “Blind Such-and-such” games.

Alter Ego is a paid-for game that I tried, and regretted. It was okay for a day or two, but after going through it twice, it was starting to pall. You start as a baby and basically progress through infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and then you die. Unless you die earlier, anyway. It gives you a series of situations with multiple choice responses. I don’t recommend it, though if it was free I might.

There are many, many more out there that I haven’t played but they don’t hold a lot of appeal. I have no interest in virtual pets, virtual babies and the like, nor in trivia games, but all of those are out there and playable by the blind.

For what it’s worth, even when you do have to pay for a game, or an expansion to one, it’s only a few dollars. Fairly cheap for what it is.

Now if only Land of Livia and Timecrest would each finish the next parts of their games, I’m patiently waiting.

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