How to Develop Inclusive Board Games

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Start to Finish

Board game development is a very individual process. Every single developer has different methods for creating their games. This article is the twelfth of a 19-part suite on board game design and development.

Accessibility is a big issue in board gaming. It’s also a very complex issue that is hard to talk about succinctly because it covers game design, product testing, individual behavior, and group behavior under a lot of different circumstances. To help understand this subject, I’ve brought in Dr. Michael Heron of Meeple Like Us.

This our third accessibility article. I recommend you read the first one and the second one as well.

 

Twilight Struggle does better than you’d think on a colorblindness test. (Photo from Meeple Like Us).

 

But first, let’s go ahead and define accessibility, using Michael’s own words (paraphrased):

 

Accessible games are ones where people can still play your game even if they have extraordinary usability needs. An inaccessibility is any feature of a game that presents a barrier to enjoyment. Mostly it’s about how information is presented and how the game is manipulated, but I also include aspects of cultural inaccessibility and representation.

This guide comes in three parts:

  • Socioeconomic Accessibility
  • Intersectional Accessibility
  • Parting Words

 

Below is a transcript of our conversation over Discord DMs. It has been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

 


 

Socioeconomic Accessibility

 

Brandon: Now what about socioeconomic accessibility? What is that and what does it entail?

Michael: For this we need to recontextualise the discussion a bit – this kind of work is often characterised as being about disability, but it really isn’t – disability is just the most obvious “use case” for the findings. As such, when this category comes around people tend to be a little quizzical because it doesn’t look like it’s in scope. But if we go back to the earlier discussion about accessibility, I said “an inaccessibility is any feature of a game that presents a barrier for someone when it comes to enjoying the game you’ve designed.”

Michael: Sometimes those barriers are in terms of how a game presents itself to gamers that don’t fall within the usual stereotype bracket of what a gamer involves. Here we tend to discuss issues of representation and inclusion. I firmly believe, and the research backs me up, that people need to see people like them reflected in a cultural product before they see it as being for people like them.

Michael: When under-represented groups look at a shelf of board games and see only white men staring back at them, that creates an accessibility barrier – one that exists before you get into the interaction model used for the game. It’s not something that stops someone from playing a game, but one that puts a psychological obstacle in place. Boys don’t play with Barbies very much because Barbies are “for girls.” Lego, until very recently, had a reputation for being “for boys.”

Michael: You see this divide in any toy shop – boys’ toys versus girls’ toys. Play isn’t gendered though, and these are artificial distinctions. They keep kids from playing outside of their expected sociological role. Board games do the same thing when they don’t have women in the art, or have a sea of white faces, or portray ethnicities or genders in careless ways. Scantily clad women, stereotypical Middle Eastern cultures, the reductive portrayal of complex and sophisticated cultures… all of that is a sociological accessibility issue.  It makes people less inclined to play even if there’s technically nothing actually stopping them.

 

Thankfully, representation on boxes doesn’t have to be that hard.

 

Michael: And this is bound up in an economic context too because the groups most impacted by all the categories we discuss on Meeple Like Us are the ones that, statisically speaking, are the ones most likely to have economic considerations that prohibit full and unconcerned engagement with the hobby.

Michael: But the issue is further interlinked by the way in which many games handle diversity in their representation, especially in licensed properties.

Michael: The “big names” in a franchise are overwhelmingly likely to be white men and they’ll be the ones most prominent in the game that you buy. Other characters, if they’re available at all, are often offloaded into expansion packs.

Michael: So there is a kind of economic tax you pay just in order to see “people like me” reflected in the game that you want to play.

Michael: Any game that is lazy about its representation, or is lassiez-faire about the implications of its business model, or how those intersect, are going to have that discussed as part of a Meeple Like Us analysis.

Michael: Coupled to that is the issue of “value for money” which is somewhat nebulous but also bound up in a socioeconomic context.

Michael: Buying a game for £100 that only supports two players is a hard sell for someone that might only have £20 they can spend on games in a month and have to make the game cater for a large family with varied patterns of work and availability.

Brandon: To sum it up, socioeconomic accessibility goes beyond simply making games that work for people with disabilities. It goes beyond even using good game design practices and simplifying game processes and experiences. It’s about making games for more gamers.

Brandon: Cultural sensitivity on board game boxes and in art goes a long way – no chainmail bikinis or offensive stereotypes of other cultures.

Brandon: Something as simple as including people of different genders and ethnicities in prominent art can make a difference.

Brandon: Everybody likes seeing people who look like them in the media. It’s just a cool feeling. Why not share that with people who don’t get that as often?

Brandon: It can make somebody’s day, you know?

Brandon: As for cost issues, strictly the “economic” part of “socioeconomic” – that’s complex for game devs.

Brandon: It’s a fact that hobby board games in small print runs have to run a bit expensive compared to what’s in Walmart or Target. That is unavoidable.

Brandon: You can, however, reduce cost problems for both you and your players by researching manufacturing and fulfillment in great detail.

Brandon: This is one of the critical things you have to get right if you want to make it in this industry.

 

Intersectional Accesibility

 

Brandon: Now you briefly touched on intersectionality – the last of the accessibility categories that we listed a bit earlier.

Brandon: Intersectionality is kind of a complex subject. How would you describe it in a nutshell?

Michael: Occasionally there are issues that manifest not because of one condition or another, but because of how they come together. For example, a hidden hand of cards might be fine for someone with visual impairments if they can bring them up close for examination. It might be fine for someone with physical constraints because their card holder is holding them in place without discomfort. However, if someone has to take into account visual and physical impairments there’s a problem that comes from that intersection. It’s about dealing with the fact that accessibility issues are often cross-category and there are implications with that.

Brandon: Any really good, familiar examples come to mind?

Michael: Verbalising instructions might be fine if someone has physical restrictions, but that compensation may not be feasible if paired with a communication impairment.

Michael: It’s also something that covers factors that don’t belong to any one individual category. For example, many conditions have modulating severity – you might be fine at the start of a game but experience discomfort as time goes by. Game length, and intensity of the game, becomes a factor there. If things get too difficult to bear a player might want to drop out of play – some games permit that without too much difficulty, others basically needed to be ended when a player drops out. Time limits in games cause accessibility issues for almost everyone, as does intense competition where players are looking to benefit from informational asymmetry.

Brandon: So it’s best not to see intersectionality as strictly corner cases where multiple unlikely things converge at once…

Michael: That’s definitely part of it, but not the whole of it.

Brandon: It’s also a matter of regular accessibility issues being exacerbated by time and intensity.

Michael: But it’s also one of the things you need to consider generally – one of the most common causes of visual impairment is diabetes. That often comes with nerve damage in the extremities, which in turn makes physical interaction more difficult. It’s often not the case that there’s just one accessibility complication to consider – they often come in sets.

Michael: And that’s especially true when you consider accessibility as a function of age. We all suffer various physical degradations as time goes by, but not uniformly. And it happens so gradually that often we don’t even think of ourselves as needing accessibility support.

Michael: Everyone is a unique data point – a highly individualised blend of individualised considerations of varying severity.

Brandon: Just to drill your diabetes point home, a quick Google search on my end shows that 9.4% of the US population has diabetes.

 

Yeah, it surprised me when I first saw it, too.

 

Brandon: That’s about 30 million people here. So this is not some academic issue. This is a practical issue for game developers.

Brandon: Also, wow, that is a much higher number than I thought it would be.

Brandon: Plus just about everybody will have some sort of accessibility issue as they age. It could be as simple as “I needed reading glasses once I turned 40.”

Michael: Definitely. The number of people who are actually impacted by these issues is massive. Around 8% of the male population in the west has some form of colour blindness. About 10% of the population in general have some form of self-reported disability, and it’s probably closer to about 20% given that many people don’t consider themselves to fall into that category even if they would benefit from accessibility support.

Michael: In fact, I just checked and the CDC says one in five.

Brandon: So with all this in mind, what is the best approach to handling intersectional accessibility?

Michael: I think by far the most useful tool for this, and all accessibility categories, is just designing with empathy in mind. Consider what you’re asking people to do and where the stresses in your game system are. We’re working on formal tabletop accessibility guidelines to give some actionable advice in each category, but in the end it’s always going to be down to the unique combination of your game and someone you likely don’t know out in the world. Simply trying to consider your game from angles you may not have considered is incredibly valuable, although if you can actually test with people with disabilities that’s obviously so much better.

Brandon: If you try to cover all the other areas as best you can, it tends to alleviate some of the worst intersectional issues too.

Brandon: And as always, play-test, play-test, play-test. That’s the best way to identify problems. The more people the better. In fact, I bumped up Byways font from 9 point to 12 point because I saw somebody squinting at the card text.

 

Parting Advice

 

Brandon: Any last parting advice for game devs hoping to make games for more gamers?

Michael: It’s great to make games accessible because it’s the right thing to do, but that doesn’t have to be the reason. It’s also good business sense – the competition out there is fierce, and there is a massive and largely untapped market out there for a game designer with a focus on accessibility. It’s a selling point – it’s good marketing, and every time you show people that you’re taking accessibility into account you show more people that this is a hobby that’s for them. You’re designing for yourself in the future, but you’re also expanding your own brand and your own audience. Morality is a great motivator, but there’s nothing quite like self-interest to really seal the deal. 🙂

Brandon: Forget economic good sense and ethics, I’m in it for the self-interest! 😛

Michael: So say we all.

Brandon: Thank you very much, this has been great and I can’t wait to share this online!

Michael: Fun chatting with you as ever.  🙂

 


 

Often times, small tweaks and a general sense of awareness go a long way toward creating professional and polished board games. By exploring some of the ways we can make games more accessible, especially socially, we can create games that more people can play. More fun for everyone!

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Don’t stereotype your players.
  • Represent women and ethnic minorities in box and game art.
  • When representing women and ethnic minorities, do not stereotype in the art.
  • Make sure you represent all kinds of players in your base game – not just expansions.
  • Don’t make your game super expensive.
  • Use gender neutral text in your written materials.
  • Realize that sometimes multiple accessibility issues happen simultaneously, creating intersectional accessibility issues.
  • Be careful about your game’s run time.
  • If possible, make a game where people can drop out without breaking the game.
  • Make games that you’ll still be able to use as you age.
  • Accessibility isn’t just about morality or cost – it’s about making something you and others will be able to use for a long time.

 

Got any questions or comments? Leave them below, I’d love to read and respond to them 🙂

How to Get Your Board Game Reviewed

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Dev Diary

Dev Diary posts are made to teach game development through specific examples from my latest project: Highways & BywaysJust here for Highways & Byways updates? Click here.

 


 

The board game review process is one of the most important parts of game development. This is true whether you launch on Kickstarter or whether you launch by more traditional means. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll assume that you’re getting your board game reviewed prior to a Kickstarter campaign. That’s what I’ve experienced and much of the discussion will still be relevant even if that assumption does not apply to you.

 

 

Why Get Reviews?

 

Why are board game reviews important? There are three major reasons: consumer protection, authority, and reach. Consumer protection is pretty obvious: with so many games coming out, there is no way for somebody to try them all, play the demos, or print out the print-and-play games. Somebody has to be the arbiter or what’s considered good and bad, simply because consumers do not have time to do this themselves. What that resulted in for board gaming is a group of people who review board games on their blogs and channels as a hobby.

Second comes authority. This is pretty simple: board games that have reviews are more attractive than board games that do not have reviews, whether or not they’re good or bad reviews. Having a recognizable name on your project gives people the sense that you are serious.

Lastly, board game reviewers have audiences separate than the one you’ve been building on your own. Some of them even have audiences vastly bigger than one you can build up in the matter of a few months or a year or two. Regardless of whether your game is reviewed by people as big as Rahdo or a handful of YouTube channels with 1,000 – 10,000 subscribers, you will have your game seen by more people than you would without them. Don’t underestimate the small channels either – a close-knit community can be better than a disengaged large and decentralized community.

 

The Strategy of Reaching Out

 

With all this said, how can you strategically approach the review process so that you get the best bang for your buck? It’s no secret that board game prototypes are expensive, so you want to get the greatest authority and reach possible. Step one: focus on people who will like your game AND whose spheres of influence do not overlap. You want to find big and engaged blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels, that’s true. You also want to only send games to people who are interested in the type of game you have to send. But I’d argue it’s more important that you get people who specialize in different niches and attract different people. The benefits are twofold: you will gain wider reach and bad reviews won’t poison your whole audience.

Having reviewers whose audiences do not overlap can help free you from your fears. It is terrifying to send your work out to reviewers who will determine whether it’s good or bad. Most of them will probably enjoy your game, but it’s still pretty scary. All I can say is make peace with your fears and don’t let them push you into doing something stupid like only reaching out to people who will sing your praises (for a price).

That brings me to one last thing you need to be aware of before you reach out to reviewers. It’s a doozy, too. There are a lot of people who will try to charge you for reviews. I’m not talking about previews with high production value videos and marketing packages (which themselves are in an ethical gray area), I’m talking about money for positive coverage. Don’t get wrapped up in that. That wouldn’t fly in most other industries and its only because board gaming is such a young industry with so many independent reviewers and creators that it’s not a bigger problem than it is.

As for paid previews with nice videos and marketing packages, I’m a little more conflicted. They typically disclose the fact that money changed hands pretty prominently. Still, make sure that whatever coverage they provide is worth more than you could have gotten with the same money spent on Facebook or Board Game Geek ads.

Last but not least, if you’re avoiding bias, you’ll probably get one or two negative reviews. That’s fine. In fact, a negative review or two can grant you more legitimacy than a game which gets nothing but perfect reviews from every direction.

 

Getting the Conversation Started

 

Take a few hours to research board game reviewers. Read their blogs, watch their videos, listen to their shows, and figure out the size of their audience and reach. Don’t just look at social media followers or subscribers, look at their status within Facebook groups and other areas too. Get a spreadsheet ready and have a list of 15-20 people to reach out to. Expect a few no’s and always prioritize your preferred reviewers first when reaching out. You don’t want your eleventh best choice to take a game out of the second best choice’s hands if your second choice responds late.

It’s best to get to know the reviewer well before you need a review. Social media makes this easy. If you already know them, you can send a simple message on Facebook or Twitter. Here’s one I used to reach out to reviewers I already knew:

 

Hey [First Name], Happy New Year! I just ordered some Highways & Byways review copies. Would you like for me to save you one for a review?

 

Short and sweet. Then once they responded, I could send more details via email. Those details include my name, my game, my timeline, a description of the game, a link to rules, a photo, and a list of anything that’s different between the review copies and the final copies. I could then use the following email for both people I knew and people I didn’t know. Note: I changed up the first paragraph based on whether they knew me or not.

 

Hi [Name],

My name is Brandon Rollins and I have created a board game called Highways & Byways. I plan to launch a Kickstarter at the end of March, and I am emailing you to see if you are interested in reviewing the game. Here’s a little more information about the game:

  • It is a casual family board game for 2-4 players. I’ve heard it favorably compared to Ticket to Ride.
  • It takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour to play – less once you’re used to it.
  • It’s fairly lightweight, but there is definitely room to strategize if you want to.
  • It has a nostalgic 1970s travel theme – think bright postcards in sharply contrasting colors.
  • The objective is to travel a route of your own selection faster than your opponents. First one home wins.
  • The three basic strategies to win are:
    • Plan your routes more efficiently at the beginning of the game.
    • Manage your hand to make more bad events less likely and good events more likely.
    • Move as fast as possible while still taking time to manage your hand.
  • Here’s a link to the rules, if you want more detail: http://bywaysgame.com/rules/

Here is a photo of the game being played around the table with my family over the holidays, so you know what it looks like when being used:

Inline image 1

I’ve got a lot of links below my name if you would like more information. I’ve been working on this game since March 2017. It’s been privately and publicly play-tested, including blind play-testing both at a Protospiel convention and online. There is also a Tabletop Simulator demo, located here: http://bywaysgame.com/demo/

If you accept, you don’t have to mail it back when you’re done. Keep or return, it’s your choice! In fact, there are only two catches I think you should be aware of:

  • The manufacturer I used for the review copies is a print-on-demand supplier and not an offset printer like I would use if the campaign funded. That means the pieces, namely cars (pawns) and houses, might differ from their final form.
  • I may have the privilege of adding stretch goals if the campaign goes really well, so the components might even end up better than what you see. (Let’s hope!)

Thank you for considering my game. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to read this email and I hope to work with you in the future!

 

Brandon Rollins

(Phone)

(Email)

(Web/Social Media)

 

That’s about all there is to it. Make sure you don’t contact more people than you have review copies to spare. Give them a little time to respond. You’d be amazed what you can accomplish just by asking politely.

 


 

Most Important Highways & Byways Updates

  • All the review copies of Highways & Byways are shipped.
  • I’ve been a guest on the We’re Not Wizards, MFGCast, and Muddled Dice podcasts – keep an eye out for that.
  • I’ve got guest posts in the works for Meeple Like Us and 21st Century Cardboard – coming soon.
  • Honestly, the pace of my outreach is moving so fast that the previous three bullet points probably won’t even be all-encompassing in the short gap between me writing them and this post going up at 9 am Friday.

How to Develop Mentally and Emotionally Accessible Board Games

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Start to Finish

Board game development is a very individual process. Every single developer has different methods for creating their games. This article is the eleventh of a 19-part suite on board game design and development.

Accessibility is a big issue in board gaming. It’s also a very complex issue that is hard to talk about succinctly because it covers game design, product testing, individual behavior, and group behavior under a lot of different circumstances. To help understand this subject, I’ve brought in Dr. Michael Heron of Meeple Like Us.

This our second accessibility article. I recommend you read the first one here.

 

Colorblindness results from Century Spice Road. (Photo from Meeple Like Us).

 

But first, let’s go ahead and define accessibility, using Michael’s own words (paraphrased):

 

Accessible games are ones where people can still play your game even if they have extraordinary usability needs. An inaccessibility is any feature of a game that presents a barrier to enjoyment. Mostly it’s about how information is presented and how the game is manipulated, but I also include aspects of cultural inaccessibility and representation.

This guide comes in three parts:

  • Cognitive Accessibility
  • Communicative Accessibility
  • Emotional Accessibility

 

Below is a transcript of our conversation over Discord DMs. It has been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

 


 

Cognitive Accessibility

 

Brandon: Let’s talk about cognitive and communicative accessibility. What are some ways in which games often fail to be cognitively accessible?

Brandon: For clarity: referring to both fluid intelligence and memory here.

Michael: This is one of the hardest categories for a modern designer game to do well within – the more strategically and tactically interesting a game is, the harder it is for it to be delivered as a cognitively accessible experience.    Even saying that, though, there are particular things that are especially troublesome – heavy amounts of synergy, mutable game flow, numeracy and complex literacy needs, heavy use of probability, inconsistent terminologies and complex conditionals in rules (if this then than except… sort of thing).

Michael: Memory suffers when playing well is dependent on knowing hidden game state – cards in a deck builder or such. There are also games that rely on elements of general knowledge or trivia, or have actions that have counteractions that can be counteracted. That means it’s hard enough remembering what you’re doing now before you even think about rolling back the overall stack of actions to where you started.

Michael: There are some nice ways to help resolve these problems though – one of my favourites is when games have a “simple” version of a game and you can layer in additional complexity with built-in rules and systems. It’s best if it’s refereed to as something other than “simple” though because there’s a kind of stigma that attaches to terms like that. I like it when games offer a visual cue as to probability (like Catan’s number tiles), and when arithmetic operations come with physical tokens that you can manipulate instead of doing straight up arithmetic. Memory is best supported by just making sure that every part of the game state has some kind of physical token to represent it.

 

Lanterns includes reference cards that serve as memory aids. (Photo from Meeple Like Us).

 

Michael: Some games involve layering in complexity within stacks, or have game systems that obscure the visibility of other game elements. I’m currently playing the Game of Thrones card game which does that a lot – you “attach” cards to other cards and in the process you end up hiding game state while at the same time you’re making it more complex. Avoiding that is a good technique, even if it’s somewhat situationally dependent on the game’s overall design.

Michael: One of the more useful observations here is that while complex games are likely to be cognitively inaccessible, it’s not necessarily the case that simple games are cognitively accessible. It’s more about the game state and how that game state is manipulated. Once Upon a Time for example is a very simple game that is very cognitively expensive because it’s about building stories, holding them in mind and locating points of narrative leverage where you can intercede.

Brandon: Generally, you want the cognitive accessibility to match the intention of the game itself. If it’s a thinker of a game, it doesn’t have to be super accessible…

Brandon: But

Brandon: And this is a big caveat here

Brandon: It needs to be as straightforward as you can possibly make it. Avoid annoying memory issues by providing reference cards and simple methods of tracking. Have rules that minimize the need for rote memorization. (A lot of this is just good game design.)

Brandon: My absolute favorite way to deal with cognitive accessibility is also possibly the hardest: making a game that can be enjoyed on many levels. Very superficial and straightforward strategies, though not necessarily optimal, should still be able to win or – at the very least – really fun to play.

Brandon: This is a personal design philosophy of mine.

Michael: Randomness can be a great leveler in this category too.

Brandon: I always like having a little luck in a game since it:

  1. Keeps games from becoming solved games.
  2. Makes simple strategies viable while still letting people play 12 dimensional chess if they want to.
  3. Makes emotional aspects easier as well. Less despair / foregone conclusion issues and so on.

 

Communicative Accessibility

 

Brandon: What are some ways in which games fail to achieve communicative accessibility?

Michael: Mostly this is an area where games do quite well – there are few games where there’s a real need for communication beyond the level of table talk. There are, though, a family of social games that stress communication, usually within tight constraints or complex scenarios, where there are going to be problems.

Michael: For one thing, articulation difficulties can make it difficult to make an argument using odd, game specific terminology or jargon. If you’re doing that to a time limit, it’s even harder. If you’re doing it when other people are trying to talk over you, it’s harder still. And if you’re doing all of that when other people around the table are trying to make you look like a liar (games like Resistance as an example), you’ve got a recipe for profound inaccessibility.

Michael: Similarly with hearing difficulties – if your ability to play the game depends on picking up on conversational nuance or the like it’s going to be a problem. Some games make use of audio signals to indicate things should happen too – Escape: Curse of the Temple, for example, has a gong that rings to indicate that players should scurry on back to the central cavern. Many of these games offer alternatives, like hourglasses, but while those work they change the game around them – you need to keep checking the time yourself instead of being notified when it’s time to do something.

 

Escape: Curse of the Temple includes an hourglass for when audio cues are not appropriate – a thoughtful gesture. (Photo from Meeple Like Us).

 

Brandon: It seems like most games can avoid big issues simply by using straightforward writing and staying away from audio cues.

Brandon: As for games where lying, bluffing, or audible communication of strategy is involved, that is more of a genre/category issue and less of an individual game issue.

 

Emotional Accessibility

 

Brandon: Now here’s where we get into the “persistently controversial” stuff.

Brandon: Emotional, socioeconomic, and intersectional issues.

Brandon: Brace yourself.

Brandon: What considerations are there when making emotionally accessibile games?

Michael: Board games are all about the social context, and to a certain extent, every game is going to be risky in this category – bad winners and bad losers transcend anything a designer can do. But there are some things that tend to exacerbate issues in this category – player elimination, ‘take that’ mechanics, the extent to which the players at a table can gang up on another player, winning-to-losing point differences, or being able to directly remove progress another player has been made. There are also a category of games (chess, Hive, and so on) that have a kind of “sheen” of intellectualism about them – it’s not true that the smartest person will win a game of chess but that’s often how society will interpret it.  On a broader level, there are also issues of emotional accessibility that are associated with certain developmental conditions – a need to lie, a need to bluff, a need to read people at a table are examples of that kind of thing.

Brandon: Would you say this is the hardest area to consider in regards to overall accessibility?

Michael: It’s a toss-up between this and cognitive accessibility – the real problem here is that you have to design against a social context over which you have almost zero control, and it’s not even necessarily one where behavioural conditions even need to manifest for it to be a problem. We all know a bad winner or an obnoxious loser. And yet we all also know gracious winners and losers that can make even pointedly aggressive games lose any sting that goes with them. All you can really do is try to minimise the common catalysts for emotional upset – assuming that’s a goal you can meet within your game design.

Brandon: For both emotional and cognitive accessibility, I recommend taking a really close look at your target audience again. “Mean” games can get away with early player elimination and take that. “Nice” games can’t. Know what your game is and know who it appeals to.

Brandon: Make choices on purpose.

Brandon: Oddly enough, this mindset of optimizing emotional and cognitive accessibility can be really good for diagnosing serious marketing issues early because they’re so subjective.

 


 

In next week’s article, we’ll continue our conversation, focusing especially on the social aspects of board game accessibility.

Often times, small tweaks and a general sense of awareness go a long way toward creating professional and polished board games. By exploring some of the ways we can make games more accessible, especially mentally and emotionally, we can create games that more people can play. More fun for everyone!

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Only have strategic synergy in your game when it makes sense for what you’re trying to do.
  • Keep the flow of your game consistent unless changing the gameplay flow is part of the game.
  • Keep wording as simple as possible.
  • Use probability wisely, making it instinctive for players through visual cues if possible.
  • Use terminology consistently.
  • Don’t include complex conditional statements in your rules unless you have to.
  • Don’t rely on general knowledge.
  • Don’t rely on knowledge of trivia.
  • Don’t require memory unless it’s part of your game.
  • Use tokens for arithmetic if possible.
  • Minimize the need for communication (outside of table talk).
  • Don’t rely on audio signals.
  • Be aware that games with lying, bluffing, and audible communication may exclude subsets of people.
  • Be careful with player elimination and take that.
  • Keep losers and winners relatively close in points if you can.
  • Don’t allow players to directly remove progress other players have made.
  • Be aware of what kind of game you’re making.

 

Got any questions or comments? Leave them below, I’d love to read and respond to them 🙂