“I’m interested to see your take on Vamp. I know it’s not the most colorblind accessible.”Cody Thompson, Jellyfish Game Studios, being dead wrong
Vamp on the Batwalk, designed by Jon Simantov and published by Jellyfish Game Studios. is a light-yet-strategic card game for 2 to 6 players. It boasts bright colors, a unique theme, and a trick taking twist: you see only the suits of your own cards (on the back of each), but you have full view of your opponents’ hands.
Color Vision Accessibility
The Kickstarter version of Vamp on the Batwalk provides 10 vampires to choose from, each with a standee and suited cards that are added to a shared deck. The color palette is diverse, but double-coding makes Vamp 100% colorblind friendly out of the box!
The magic in making a 10-player-color game accessible is ensuring color is not the only distinguisher between cards. Mike Rankin, the game’s graphic artist, brought his experience to this project. “My background is in UI/UX design for video games and mobile apps, so accessibility is always a high priority for me.”
Mike shared the work he and Cody did on graphic design for these cards.
Cody and I had considered accessibility from the very beginning, even before we designed the characters. Keeping each card primarily one tone, especially around its border, helped make the suits obvious, and we gave each vampire a very strong, unique silhouette which helped emphasis that. For the information in the corners of the cards, we made sure that each number and suit symbol had a solid, unambiguous silhouette; high contrast; and that they didn’t overlap any other graphical element.
For the card backs, we kept the same ideas: a single primary tone, symbols with clear silhouettes that didn’t have to compete with other graphical elements, and a uniquely shaped coffin to emphasis the unique suit.
For each pass on the cards, we checked the artwork under a black-and-white filter to make sure a player could always easily identify the suit just by the shape of the symbol, even if all other cues were gone.
Low Vision Accessibility
Beyond color vision, Mike and Cody addressed the needs of low-vision players, especially in a high-player-count game where they would need to see cards across the table.
With low-vision players in mind, I based the original proportions of the card by referencing a suit of standard playing cards. We knew that the cards had to read clearly from a distance, much further than normal cards, since a player not only had to read their own cards quickly, but cards held by the other players too!
Most games use a small tracker with identical tokens for scoring, and sometimes those don’t read clearly across the table. Cody’s idea for using the stage as a score tracker was an excellent way to represent players’ scores using big, strongly-silhouetted standees.
Colorblind Games received a complementary copy of Vamp on the Batwalk from Jellyfish Game Studios for this review.