Bored? Play a game. Games are a lot of fun and come in many forms. I play some video games, card games, and board games. There are games for one person and games for eight or more. There are games to play against each other and games to cooperate as a team to achieve a goal. I love them all! I prefer playing with others. Some of my favorites are cooperative. Currently, I am into more board games and some card games because I can make them more accessible to me through braille and tactile methods. A few favorites are Pandemic, Forbidden Desert, Dominion, Thunderstone Advanced, 7 Wonders, Stone Age, Settlers of Catan, and many more. I thought I would share how I can play. I assure you that I don’t just sit there and let someone else move my pieces and tell me a little about what is going on. I play, and I AM GOOD.
If that makes you smile, I am glad; but it is true. With video games, I use or have used games that provide vibration feedback, closed captions and subtitling for dialog and sound effects, color contrast, and more. Halo, Left 4 Dead, and Borderlands are good examples of this when it comes to the usual genres of first person shooters or exploration games from the popular ones made for the typical gamer. There are a few blind games out there, but they are hard to find and are all Personal Computer (PC). I prefer XBox type games. I do best at first person shooter games where the reticule (used for aiming) turns red in the center when you find an enemy target. I can still see red sometimes in the very center of my vision, especially if I use telescope type lens as I play. I even have my gamer tag on a few systems locked in: BlindGunner! Working with my team, though I can’t really hear them, we handle most targets really well, and I have made a few diehard gamers angry when they discover that I can’t see or hear. Their egos have a hard time dealing with the fact. Ah, it is fun! Don’t worry. I am not advocating violent video games to anyone and certainly not for young players. I enjoy shooting aliens or zombies and occasionally target practice between Halo players, but shooting games are not for everyone. Choose a video game, if it is appropriate. There are plenty of different kinds out there. It is also ok to avoid them, too, because the best way to have fun with others is up close and personal with other types of games.
Get a few other people together in the same room around a table. One of the best ways to get to know them and have fun is play a game. Card games are great fun and are simple to learn. I have found ways to make them easy for me to play, too. Simple card games are easy enough to play if you can use a brailled deck of regular playing cards. Some are large print and have a lot of color contrasting. There are many games that can be played with regular card decks, including children’s games. Most people have forgotten that Old Maid and Go Fish were originally played on the only card decks available, a regular poker or pinochle type card deck. Of course, modern Old Maid and Go Fish decks are colorful and sized just right for smaller hands making the tasks of matching colors or numbers or animal suits easier for younger children. Those cards can be brailled, too. Some card games like Uno can be bought brailled, as well as the RummiKub tile game. There are other kinds of card games that are fun and can teach new skills or history or other subjects without you even realizing you are learning. Sometimes these cards have a lot of writing on them, so a simple braille letter/number can’t be easily used. For those cards that only have a little information on them, you can use plastic card sleeves and braille the most important details such as name, type of action, and effects on the sleeve. Sometimes making the cards accessible is time consuming, but the fun of the game and the interaction with friends makes all the time and effort worth it.
Board games or even card games that lay out and play more like a board game are my favorite type of game to play. I find that board games are easier to make educationally-themed, like 7 Wonders and Advanced Civilization; they are fun and engaging without giving as much hint that you are learning as you play. Cooperative play games like Pandemic and Forbidden Desert are great for learning cooperation skills and interactive skills as well as exploring roles involved in the theme such as explorer and archaeologist in Forbidden Desert and medic and scientist in Pandemic. Making them accessible can be anything from brailling cards to using tactile counters. In Forbidden Dessert, your character must use a unit of water whenever the card labeled “Sun Beats Down” comes up. The game uses a clip on the character guard along a rule of 1 to 4. I could put tactile bumps on the card next to each level, and move the clip down each time, or as I chose most of the time, I use colored beads next to my card. I move them away to another pile as I use them. I have also used wooden pieces shaped like people or animals for player pawns to move across the board. My “meeples” as they are often called is uniquely shaped and usually red to help me find my particular pawn. We also have had a tactile wood game board custom made for our long-standing favorite game, Settlers of Catan. Each environment such as woods, desert, wheat plain, sheep meadows, mountainous ore, etc. are uniquely colored and textured from wood. I can feel each part of the board and know what area is being played to know what resources I want to get.
With a little thought and time, almost any game can be made playable by anyone in the family. In fact, I find myself more involved and aware of what is going on around me when playing a board game than any other time. Teach me the rules of the game, give me a few clues about what each other player is doing, and I have pretty close to full-on participation that I just don’t get in most other social settings. The game atmosphere takes the pressure off of me and everyone, too. If I can play a game and have fun, anyone can if they just look for a game that suits them and those with whom they play.
Playing games, especially board games, is the best way to teach social skills, academic skills, critical thinking skills, and more. The best part though is the fun of the game and the fun interaction with others. I think many people have forgotten or never learned how beneficial playing games can be. Adults often seem to think that you can’t play games when you are grown up, but you are certainly missing out with that attitude. They are also the cheapest form of entertainment and involve your brain more than just staring at a screen watching a movie. You also learn more about the people you play with than you do sitting and watching a movie with very little interaction. Movies are great. I’m not knocking them, but board games are more like life with their 3-d interaction. Choose a game and play it with your family. There are plenty out there for all ages, abilities, and personalities. If you don’t like one game, try another of a different kind. I am pretty certain you will find the fun in games and even some learning.
Now, if you ever get the chance to play me online or in person, don’t expect me to go easy on you! Though winning isn’t everything, and I don’t mind losing, I am good. I use my brain, so be prepared or you will lose (evil laughter fading in and out).
If you would like to find out more about gaming, try the following links where they review games and explain the different types of play.
Geeks Playing Geeks
YouTube Reviews (there are several, but I recommend one for best language and knowledge. With YouTube, they show you the game components and introduce you to rules and actual play.)
Tom Vasal and Dice tower.com
Some of the common accessible games like Uno and braille dice can be found at http://www.futureaids.com formerly known as the Braille Superstore.