I was wondering if any of you have suggestions for developing a new puzzle app that is screen reader compatible. This could be an entirely new concept or an accessible version of an existing puzzle. For my master's thesis, I am trying to create a new digital puzzle that is accessible to anyone with a visual impairment. I know that there are relatively many accessible word games (mainly anagram based), like Blindfold Word Games and Accessible Hangman. Do you enjoy these? Or do you prefer puzzle apps such as Blackbox?
About my thesis: I am researching the elements that make a digital puzzle (apps, browser based, console, anything) suitable for an audio solution. For example, does VoiceOver work well with grid puzzles such as Sudoku? I don't mean that every element in the grid is read correctly, but whether the order in which it was done makes sense and if this audio representation helps with creating a mental map of the grid. Similarly, using a screen reader, what types of puzzles are easier to use; do you prefer word puzzles over sliding puzzles such as Rush Hour or 2048, etc.? These digital puzzles should be comprehensible and easy to use, but not easy to solve; puzzles are meant to be challenging.
Many thanks for your input!
I'd love to see a good candy crush equivelent.
A few years back, there was a great game called Blindie Match. From what I understand, it was similar in concept to candy crush, and was one of my favorites. Unfortunately, when I got my newest iPhone, the game disappeared. The blindfold games are OK, but it would be great to see alternatives out there. IAssociate was a great word puzzle that used to be accessible, but again, it's no longer available and the version currently in the app store doesn't work with Voice Over at all.
Hanging with Friends was a wonderful HangMan-type game that was quite accessible, but again, it's no longer available. Another fun game I remember is SpellStack. Not sure how to describe that one, but it was a lot of fun. In my opinion, it would be ideal if games could be made accessible that also appeal to sighted players. I sometimes feel frustrated when my sighted friends are playing all of these really fun-sounding puzzle games and I can't play them. Stand-alone puzzle games that are accessible would be awesome, but we really need more games that we can play with sighted friends or family. I hope this helps to give you a couple of ideas. Hopefully others will chime in with their thoughts.
A treasure hunt type of a game might also be worth exploring.
Re: I'd love to see a good candy crush equivelent.
Thank you so much for your comment, Missy! I will try to see if I can find some information about these games that unfortunately are no longer available and see if they can serve as an inspiration for this digital puzzle I am trying to create. A game like candy crush sounds nice, but I am just wondering how large the grid can be (like 4x or 8x8?), while it's still possible to create a mental map of the board. Or maybe it doesn't work like that, and you only think about completing one row at a time.
I've read lots of comments from people saying that they would love to have apps that are fun for both sighted and blind players. From what I've read on this forum, I think audio puzzles and casual games in general are more likely to be played by sighter gamers, rather than, for instance, adventure games or role playing games with an extensive story line.
Re: Maze game
Thanks for the suggestion, Justin. A treasure hunt game is perfect for combining a number of puzzles into one game. The fun part about this is that you can give each puzzle some sort of theme that corresponds with the subject of the game. You can just solve a puzzle at a time, save your progress and go on with your day, no need to play the game for hours on end. This is a great way to make a casual game in which you can also keep track of your progress. I do think there should always be the possibility to skip a puzzle, so you can't get stuck at some point. The hardest part about creating such a game is the replay value. Once you've solved all the puzzles, the game is finished. One way this could be solved is by implementing a free play mode, in which players can just solve the puzzles that were in the game, but with other contents, if that makes sense.
Lovely/whimsical things and less reliance on space
So good to see you here, and I'm super excited to see what you come up with for your intriguing thesis. I'm not sure if any of my thoughts will be helpful, but:
One thing I dearly love about Blackbox is that it doesn't require people to mental map, something I and many others I know struggle with due to low/no awareness of space. At their heart, puzzles are things that involve figuring out what to do, and need not always involve sequences of pictures/numbers in specific spots. I'm not by any means saying Blackbox should be emulated. Its its own masterpiece and, besides, I'm sure its quite exhausted that particular brand of interaction, but I definitely prefer something maybe that doesn't require heavy keeping track of the visual sort, though I'll absolutely try anything you decide to set your hand to! That said, in your question about candy crush type things, vertical navigation on the rotor can sometimes help with seeing what is and is not related, and I've even seen a few games use the rotor to jump to certain parts of the board, though I'm sorry to say I can't think of any examples of this at the moment.
In case it matters, I also think we have a real shortage of games with elements that are whimsical/beautiful in some way, softer, gentler sweeter things that just let people escape for a while. Card and dice games and people with swords are wonderful, but after so many of them, my heart, at least, yearns for more peaceful things, perhaps with sweet creatures, baked goods or other deliciousness, sparkles, faeries, gowns etc. These, of course, can also be combined with cards/dice/anything else, a certain Miracle Merchant I've begun to hear whispers of comes to mind and I know that those can sometimes feature in puzzles in unexpected ways.
Hope my rambles are helpful, and happy creating!
Re: Lovely/whimsical things and less reliance on space
Hi Faerie, thank you for your useful thoughts and opinions. Struggling with the awareness of space is something that I hypothesised to be a common issue. However, up until now, I have read so many positive remarks about, for instance, word searcher puzzles or other two-dimensional puzzles. Just wondering if that might have to do with preference, differences between visual impairments or maybe your overall perception. For example, is it easier to visualise a grid if you lost your sight at some point, because you know what this type of puzzles look like? Unfortunately, I do not have time to research the reasons behind this, but I think this could lead to some interesting results.
I have read more comments about using the rotor in games and I will be looking into that. Thanks for the suggestion.
About the game subjects.. I agree, there are lots of aggressive games or games that concentrate on beating someone else, defeating the enemy and, overall, just chaos. Generally just negative. A more relaxed type of puzzle with positive elements might be refreshing. I am trying to create a puzzle that is kind of neutral and not traditionally masculine or feminine, although I don't like to label certain game types as such. Might be nice to be able to customise it, like choosing a theme of your preference and the puzzle matches the voices and background music to said theme. I can't explain why, maybe because I am getting hungry, but I do like the idea of including baked goods or anything cute and edible. For example, every mini puzzle or part of a puzzle you solve earns you an ingredient for the recipe of the day.
Yes, I've noticed people who have seen at some point tend to have a bit of an easier time with visuals, over all, but not by any means exclusively. I wonder how things like the rotor might compensate for such confusions and also wonder if their are ways of doing it that rely less on keeping track. Love love love your ingredients idea. I also thought, last night, that its been a long time since we've had anything new that had any form of multiplayer, but don't know if that's at all something you're interested in dabbling in.
Thanks so much for all your wonderful responses here and best of luck to you.
Candy crush type games
Hi, I'm congenitally blind and have no ability to picture a grid layout, making puzzle games pretty difficult. I think I have some kind of spatial learning disability on top of blindness because my issues impact all of my senses. I am apallingly bad at Blindfold Color Crush, but something that would make the game easier would be if I could put markers on certain cells so I could come back to them later. That would give me a reference point so that I'm not constantly scrolling around trying to find the two greens.
Re: Candy crush type games
Hi Tasha, thanks for your remarks about the difficult visualisation of 2D spaces. That's a useful suggestion. I will try to minimise the use of grids, but if I do, I'll be sure to include as many reference points as possible.