Selling Colorblind Accessibility?

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Today, the latest Board Game Design Lab podcast episode started with the following ad:

“This week’s episode is sponsored by Weird Giraffe Games, whose game Big Easy Busking is on Kickstarter right now!”

It continued with the normal stuff: theme, gameplay, etc.  Then this:

“Big Easy Busking is easy to teach, has vibrant art, and graphic design that is colorblind friendly…”

What? An ad read that includes colorblind accessibility as a selling point? A recognition that a potential backer who is colorblind might see the vibrant art and have concerns about playability? I followed up with Carla Kopp, who shared Weird Giraffe’s approach to color vision deficiency in game design and publishing:

“I try to make all my games colorblind friendly, as it’s super nice for colorblind people, but it’s also great for everyone else… Less ‘not fun times’ should mean the entire experience is more fun.”

This extra effort sold at least one more copy of their game – to me. I’m excited to follow the progress of Big Easy Busking on Kickstarter and play it soon!

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Image Credits: Weird Giraffe Games

Colorblind Review: Wingspan

I started my first play-through of Wingspan ready to struggle with its wide-ranging palette of orange, red, brown and green. The big pile of pastel eggs didn’t ease my concerns, as I readied myself to confuse white, pink-ish, and maybe-blue for the next 40 to 70 minutes.

The natural environment – home of every named and unnamed hue – is one of the most challenging for the colorblind. In particular, greens, browns, reds, and yellows can blend into an indiscernible greenish-brownish-redish-yellowish, which for me leads to confusion and frustration.

So every time I am introduced to a new game with a nature theme, I prepare myself for the disappointment of not being able to play it, the vulnerability of exposing my vision deficiency, or a need to ask for real-time help or colorblind-friendly modifications.

Enter Wingspan, which boasts all the beauty of nature. Birds, trees, and eggs dominate each player’s game board, and the colors of cubes, tokens, and bits vary widely. I was both excited to try it out and nervous about how it might go.

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It turns out I had nothing to worry about. Wingspan exemplifies accessible graphic design. It is a beautiful, nature-inspired experience that colorblind gamers can play right out of the box.

I later learned that the designer and developer considered colorblindness early in the process. In a Twitter AMA, I asked Elizabeth Hargrave if she had identified any color vision deficiency issues during the design and development of Wingspan.

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For some designers, color can be used as an easy distinguisher to support basic game mechanics, but in many games it is uninspired, and for me, unplayable. By replacing “set collection by color” in Wingspan, Hargrave and the team both improved accessibility for a subset of players and made the game better.

Image Credits (top to bottom): Stonemeier Games; Twitter.