As I discovered while reviewing Tiny Towns and reaching out to Peter McPherson, players are not the only colorblind members of the board game community. Designers, developers, graphic artists, illustrators, and publishers can have vision deficiencies, too.

Sarah Reed recently guest-posted about her experience modifying games for use by her colorblind friends and family. She also shared that her husband, Will Reed, is both colorblind and legally blind. As a follow up to Sarah’s article, I asked Will a few questions about his experience playing, testing, and designing tabletop games.

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What’s the most difficult for you when playing games?

Probably my toughest challenge with games are when art is used. Many times a mechanic is buried within something that is supposed to look nice and help the theme of the game. The thing is, this only offers a barrier to play, which prevents me from enjoying any part of the game, regardless of theme.

One of the most common examples is an art piece used as an icon. From my perspective, an icon is meant to be a quick reference so you understand what something is supposed to be or how it’s supposed to be used. Every time art gets layered on, this slows down the comprehension and thus prevents it from being a good icon.

What do you wish people would know about your vision deficiency?

For the most part, I just want people to remember I have one. I tend to operate very successfully in games, so people take for granted just how much I don’t see. This makes games with public information tricky for me, at times, since it’s readily available to most players while not to me.

Do you experience any advantages as a game designer because of your vision impairments?

Actually, I do. Having vision impairments mean I tend to retain a lot more mentally than most people when interacting with games. As such, when I design, I can often mentally playtest game concepts and iterate on designs quite rapidly. This results in many of the prototypes we create being much more stable than other designs I’ve played from sighted designers’ initial prototypes.

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I appreciate Will taking the time to share his experience, and I encourage you to check out Will and Sarah’s most recent release, Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture, and their upcoming roll-and-write game, Scrapyard Rollbot, in Dice & Ink Volume 1.

Image Credits: Sarah Reed & Will Reed

One thought on “Colorblind Games Profile: Will Reed

  1. Hey Will here,

    Just saying I have good mental skills is one thing. And you’d think that would be hard to prove unless you’ve maybe experienced playing games with me personally. However, I do have an example of what I mean with a different hobby of mine. I currently have a project on LEGO Ideas called, “Ahoy’s Seafood Restaurant.” All the colors I chose in the model were done in my head. I am looking for more support for the project so if you do go there that would help.

    And before you ask, yes, some times I use LEGO to build prototypes for games and have used them as a substitution for making a prototype from others a tad more accessible. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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