Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
Inclusive Games from Terramagne - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Inclusive Games from Terramagne
Friday I wrote about games for blackouts or blind people. Saturday morning I woke up with a head full of inclusive games from Terramagne. Most can be replicated with local materials, although some are easy for home crafters while others are much more difficult. In some cases, local options aren't quite as good -- velcro is stiff and scratchy compared to vrip -- but should work. I have described the sizes as best I could; those matching standard sizes (e.g. poker chips) are probably correct but I could be off on other aspects.

Play All is a T-American game company that makes games and game pieces with inclusive features. It was started by several Kraken members who retired from supervillainy due to various disabilities and went into gaming. So Kraken encourages it and provides some support, but it's not a wholly-owned subsidiary company. It is one of the most popular places to stash people who don't want to become supervillains or minions, because they have so many different types of jobs suited to employees with various abilities and special needs.

Oodles of Kettles is an inclusive game that launched the game system Oodles and Kettles, for which hundreds of rule sets have now been created. The original is a straightforward capture game, where the person gaining the most pieces wins. Oodles are playing pieces distinguished by texture as well as color. They are shaped similar to bowling pins but with a wider base for stability. Currently the options include khaki smooth, blue swirled, orange crosshatched, brick bricked, yellow honeycombed, orchid starred, light orange flowered, dimpled (violet small, purple large), bumpy (light yellow small, dark yellow large), zigzag lined (brown vertical, dark brown horizontal), wavy lined (light blue vertical, dark blue horizontal), straight grooved (light green vertical, green horizontal, dark green diagonal), and rough (pink fine, red medium, bordeaux coarse). That's a total of 21 standard textures. These are matched to the 21 colors of the ColorADD tones, with 7 each of light, standard, and dark tones. Periodically, Play All issues a set of the five senses with small raised eyes, noses, mouths, ears, and hands matching the ColorADD gold, light gray, dark gray, white, and black. Oodles come in four sizes: small (1" tall), medium (3"), large (6"), and jumbo (12"). The small ones are for ages 3+ but the medium, large, and jumbo ones are safe for younger children. Not necessarily all textures come in all sizes all the time, but there's always a wide variety.

There is also a set of matching bases called Kettles. These are discs the size of a standard poker chip (39mm) with a raised edge on one side, typically with a texture inside the raised edge and smooth on the bottom, but there are also double-texture and double-smooth versions. They are child-safe. Two small or one medium Oodle will fit inside a Kettle. Large and jumbo Oodles have a recessed bottom; a large Oodle covers one Kettle and a jumbo Oodle covers two Kettles. A small Oodle fits inside a Door or a Pott. Three 12mm Chocks or one 19mm Chock fit into a Kettle. A large Oodle covers three 12mm Chocks or two 19mm Chocks. A jumbo Oodle covers six 12mm Chocks, four 19mm Chocks, or one 50mm Chock.

KettleKorn is a simple, fast-paced game that requires pattern recognition, speed, and dexterity. To play it, you need one Kettle for each player plus a substantial number of small six-sided dice in the same color. These can be any color but yellow, which has special properties -- yellow dice are the "Korn." If you buy the game rather than assembling your own, it comes with 12 of the Kettles and 144 of the matching 12mm dice in assorted colors, plus a yellow honeycombed Kettle and its 12 yellow dice. The player Kettles go in one small bag, the player dice in another, the yellow Kettle and Korn in a third, all tucked into a larger bag. Start by taking out the yellow Kettle. Player Kettles may be freely chosen, drawn at random from the bag, or used to balance play by giving harder Kettles to the stronger players.

Play proceeds in rounds, and everyone plays simultaneously. To play, each person puts their Kettle texture-side up in front of them and the yellow Kettle goes in the center of the table, with one Korn showing 6 in the Kettle. One person then dumps the bag of dice over the table. (It helps to play on an edged table or tray to keep the dice from falling on the floor.) Any die showing 6 may be picked up. Taking a die other than 6 means returning that die, returning one of the same value from the player's Kettle, and not picking up any more dice this round. Players may only take dice in their own color. However, anyone can grab the Korn when it rolls a 6. After taking a die, the player must put it in or on their Kettle, not touching the table, although it can be stacked on top of other dice. (This is complicated by the fact that every Kettle has a different texture inside.) They can then grab more dice if any eligible ones remain. When all the relevant dice have been claimed, put the leftovers back in the bag to roll again. Repeat subsequent turns in the same manner. If a player's stack of dice collapses so that any die touches the table, they are done playing, but have not necessarily lost. Dice falling into the Kettle don't count as a collapse.

Play concludes when 1) everyone's dice stack has collapsed, or 2) all the Kettle-matching dice and Korn have been claimed. To determine the winner, each player counts the number of dice they had stacked on their Kettle (including the one that knocked it over, if relevant) and multiplies that number by 6. If there are any wrong-colored dice, subtract 12 for each one. Then separate any Korn and roll those dice. Add up those numbers and add them to the total. The person with the highest score wins.

The standard version uses all the dice at once, even those not matching a player. To make the game easier, use fewer sets of extra dice. To make it harder, add more extra dice or other clutter.

A harder version of game is called KaramelKorn. It uses light yellow, yellow, dark yellow, light orange, orange, brick, bordeaux, khaki, brown, dark brown, black, and white. The similar colors make it harder to grab only the right color of dice.

Chock Full of Doors is an inclusive game that launched the game system Chocks and Doors, for which hundreds of rule sets have now been created. The original includes positional and deductive aspects, about opening doors and finding out what's behind them. Chocks are rectangular playing pieces with raised ColorADD symbols plus a tiny raised dot to indicate direction, now available in a variety of formats. There are flat squares (the original version) with a symbol on top and smooth on the bottom, or a symbol on both the top and bottom, plus double smooths. The solid cubes come standard with a symbol on one side, two opposed sides, all six sides, or all smooth. They can be customized in different styles, like if you want three adjacent faces marked. Chocks come in 27 standard colors.

There is also a set of matching bases called Doors, which are square with a raised edge on one side. Typically they have a smooth bottom and a symbol inside the raised edge, but some are available in double symbol or double smooth styles. Sometimes the company makes a limited run of all-metallic pieces, including rectangular Doors with a parenthesis printed on the side so that any piece put inside it can be made metallic. All of these are safe for small children.

Later they added Transoms, which are opaque or transparent square pieces that fit over Doors. Also child-safe, these are available in a more limited range of colors, with or without symbols on top. They're used in games with hiding/revealing mechanics to create three layers of symbols in the Transom, Chock, and Door.

There are also ColorADD dominos, which are much easier to read than pip dominoes (even for sighted people) and combine very well with Chocks and Doors or other Play All game systems. These come in mini (1 3/16" long by 9/16" wide by 3/16" thick), standard (1 7/8" long by 15/16" wide by 1/4" thick), and jumbo (2" long by 1" wide by 1/2" thick) sizes. A Door will fit over the symbol on one end of a ColorADD jumbo domino, so that symbols can be concealed, revealed, or changed during game play.

Files to make Chocks, Doors, Transoms, and ColorADD dominoes on all 3D printers are P-squared for public domain and available free, but printing your own takes a while to do more than a few, so most people just buy them. Chocks come in small (12mm), medium (19mm), and large (50mm) sizes. The small size is useful as a marker for setting on cards or other playing pieces. The medium size is standard, and a medium Chock will fit inside a Kettle from the Oodles set or a Pott from the Pux set. The large size is safe even for children under 3, and offers maximum accessibility for people with lower dexterity and/or sensitivity. Play All makes them in plastic, wood, and ceramic all the time. Periodically they contract with a factory to do a limited run in metal, which is the most durable but by far the most expensive. Small and medium plastic Chocks are as cheap as standard dice or pawns, while the larger ones cost more.

Puk in the Pott is an inclusive game that launched the game system Pux and Pottz, for which hundreds of rule sets have now been created. The original is a resource gathering game with push your luck elements, in which tricksters try to steal stuff without getting caught. You could either press the game piece to hear its sound and risk getting caught, or take your chances that it might be useless or actively harmful instead of helpful. A Puk is a plastic disc with a low domed button in the middle that makes a sound when pressed. They are usually sold in sets of 2-12 but also come individually or in bulk. There are dozens of standard sounds at the base price. A more expensive version is blank and can load one customized sound file. The most expensive ones require a command module that lets them record, store, and change different sounds. There is also a set of Pux that randomly play one of several sounds, available in the same probabilities as polyhedral dice. The more sounds, the more expensive the Puk, so the full set is quite high; but they're a total geek magnet and people love them. In Terramagne, these are reverse-engineered tech, but there are cheap knockoffs made from earlier electronics. While much more expensive than inert plastic game pieces, their price falls within the range for other small electronic games and toys. It does add up quickly if you want more than a few of them. Pux are somewhat similar to these talking recordable buttons.

There is also a set of matching bases called Pottz, available in all the same variations as Pux. These are discs the size of a standard poker chip (39mm) with a rim on one side; pressing on the rim makes a sound. A Puk fits inside a Pott, thus making it possible to juxtapose two sounds in a single playing space, ideal for such game mechanics as trumping, capturing, teaming up, or showing possession of objects. Because one option offers human voices, this is among the most popular types of playing piece for games that allow two-person teams. They're also great for worker placement games. Two small or one medium Oodle also fit inside a Pott. Large and jumbo Oodles have a recessed bottom; a large Oodle covers one Pott and a jumbo Oodle covers two Potts (including Puks in the center). A Puk fits into a Kettle. Two 12mm Chocks or one 19mm Chock fit into a Kettle.

Pux and Pottz are reasonably robust, but still more fragile than solid pieces just because they have multiple parts. They are not for children age 3 or younger. For ages 4-6, adult supervision is recommended. For ages 7 and up, these are ideal for teaching how to play with things that are just a little bit fragile. They are enormously popular in music classes from about kindergarten on up to college. Let's Make a Band! is among the best-selling games for this system, with five levels of difficulty often used in kindergarten, grade school, junior high, high school, and college. Mrs. MacDonald's Farm is an educational game about agriculture with three levels of difficulty for kindergarten, grade school, and high school. Birding By Ear teaches basic ornithology in two levels, grade school and high school. Around the World in 80 Names is a collectible game with modes for teaching foreign languages and/or geography; its three levels are grade school, high school, and college. An Ear for Trouble is a safety game for young children, with two levels of difficulty for preschool and kindergarten. Get In and Go! teaches navigation skills at three levels of difficulty in kindergarten, grade school, and high school.

The standard sounds used on Pux and Pottz include:
Alarms: beep, bell, buzzer, siren.
Animals: cat, dog, cow, horse, pig, sheep, elephant, lion, monkey, wolf.
Birds: cardinal, chicken, dove, duck, go-away bird, hawk, kookaburra, owl, peacock, whipporwill.
Musical instruments: (brass) trumpet, trombone, bazooka, tuba; (string) harp, banjo, lute, ukulele, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, string bass, violin; (woodwind) cedar flute, flute, shakuhachi, panpipe, recorder, okarina, clarinet, saxophone, oboe, bassoon, bagpipe, harmonica; (percussion) bass drum, bodhran, doumbek, snare drum, talking drum, cymbals, gong, triangle, tambourine, xylophone; (keyboard) piano, electric organ, pipe organ, harpsichord. Sometimes they issue sets of instrumental sounds relating to a specific culture or time period; for example the Japanese set with hichirichi reed flute, koto harp, shakuhachi flute, taiko drum.
Musical scales: Aeolian mode, bebop dominant scale, blues scale, chromatic scale, dorian mode, flamenco scale, harmonic scale (major, minor, standard), Ionian mode, Lydian mode, major pentatonic scale, Phrygian mode.
People: "My name is ..." in dozens of languages with different genders and ages of speakers.
Vehicles: airplane, boat, car, train.

Magz Leviathan is an inclusive game that launched the game system Magz, for which hundreds of rule sets have now been created. The original includes blockade and connection elements as the ships attempt to fend off the sea monsters. Magz are magnetic game pieces and boards. Solid metal Magz include spheres, half-spheres (horizontal and vertical), eggs, half-eggs (horizontal and vertical), cones, pyramids, ziggurats, cubes, rectangles, stars, flowers, and horseshoes. They are available in various ferrous and nonferrous metals, so there can be magnetic and non-magnetic pieces with the same shape in some games. Pieces may be unpainted (so the different colors show, with raised ColorADD symbols to mark the metal) or all painted the same color (thus obscuring the material). There is also a hollow polyhedral set with small flat magnets set into one or more faces, and matching ones without magnets, in various colors of plastic or wood. All of these pose a choking hazard and require some precision to use, so they are recommended for ages 8+ only.

The metal game boards include a wide variety in which spaces are typically marked with raised ridges. Track boards have round, oval, square, spiral, serpentine, parallel line, maze, dungeon, or "spaghetti" shaped tracks for moving pieces along them. Territory boards have round, square, hexagonal, or odd-shaped spaces such as ponds or continents scattered around. Some games, like the Ludo family, combine sets of tracks and territories so that each player has their own. Grid boards like those for chess or checkers typically have square or hexagonal ridging over the whole board, although the go and spiderweb boards have recessed grooves instead so you can put stones over intersections. Boards can be large folding slabs, medium solid slabs, or smaller tiles. Most boards are square or rectangular, but a few are round, triangular, or some other shape. Tiles may be triangular, square, hexagonal, or puzzle-shaped. Similar game boards are available in other materials such as cardboard or plastic for use with nonmagnetic playing pieces.

Magz can be used to play multiple games, which is good because they are bulky, heavy, and expensive compared to cardboard games. However, they last forever and it doesn't even matter if you spill your drink on them -- just rinse and dry them. Most pieces are durable if dropped or stepped on, although your foot might not be. These make a great investment for dedicated gamers who like tactile or visual-metallic toys and/or need something that stands up to considerable abuse. Magz are enormously popular at schools from junior high up, because they are so sturdy.

Weed the Garden is an inclusive game that launched the game system Wedgeez, for which hundreds of rule sets have now been created. The original features a grooved board that holds colored Feelipa shapes, where players try to remove weeds and grow vegetables. This format has the advantage of sticking the pieces firmly in place without sacrificing any versatility, which makes it a great travel game. Each color/shape represents a different type or stage of plant. Different modes involve all-in-a-row, blockade, counting, hunting, positional, and/or other mechanics. Most can be played at grade school, junior high, or high school level although some modes have only one or two levels. Pieces are available in plastic or wood, and all of them are too big to swallow. The pointy bits and the complexity make it best for ages 7+ though.

Remember London! is an inclusive game that launched the game system BlitzChips, for which hundreds of rule sets have now been created. The original features plastic disks the size of standard poker chips (39mm) with a raised design on one side that effectively doubles their thickness. As such, they fit most products designed for poker chips, but not as many will fit in a stack. They are sturdy and too big to choke on, thus child-safe. However, as the name implies, the first version targeted adults with images of planes, bombs, soldiers, and other World War II imagery from the London blitz. When customers pointed out that the theme was totally inappropriate for children but the toy style appealed to them, Play All released new sets with farm animals, nature motifs, the alphabet (in several writing systems), colored pieces with ColorADD and Feelipa symbols, high contrast chips that are black (textured center) and white (smooth center) on opposite sides, and so on. BlitzChips can be used to play purely tactile versions of Memory or other games that rely on hiding and revealing information. They also make great large-scale pawns for track-based games or markers for wargames.

Play All has developed a number of supporting materials, such as game boards with recessed circles to hold the chips (with a notch on one side so you can lift them back out), Connect X frames in sizes from 3x3 to 12x12, tumblers to turn BlitzChips into a random-symbol generator, and footies to make the chips stand on edge. This system has become enormously popular for blackout games. It's also used in place of bingo at many senior centers because the big shapes are often easier to parse than numbers or letters. Like Chocks, the 3D printer files are P-squared for the public domain, along with the footies and some coaster-sized game tiles.

ColorCards are decks marked in multiple ways. First is the flat version done in visible color, text, ColorADD, and Feelipa. These cost just a little more than standard cards, and they are widely available in many common card games such as poker, Uno, Go Fish, Donkey (Old Maid), Phase 10, and Skip-Bo. You can also get decks with those markings in raised format plus Braille. However, an inherent issue with raised format is the bumps either wear out faster or require special materials to reduce that tendency. So they're heavier, stiffer, and/or considerably more expensive compared to standard decks.

FeelieForms are fabric shapes backed with vrip which use the Feelipa color code. There are primary and blended shapes made of fabric in the proper color. However, the nature of Feelipa means that you can press a red square and a yellow triangle together to make the orange shape. You can also stick them together in long rows, grids, etc. to create game boards in many designs. Leave a little gap between the shapes and you can clearly feel the spaces. In addition to the Feelipa symbols there are also other shapes such as ponds, clouds, grass strips or hills, trees, roads, buildings, people, and animals. These have a small Feelipa symbol on the front for relatively smooth fabrics or on the back for highly textured ones like fake fur. The shapes have the softer form of vrip on them.

The playing surfaces come in many styles, all made with the rough type of vrip. There are flat boards, including many types of game board with the spaces marked by piping, ribbon, etc. Others have a wilderness, a town, or other scenery depicted with large stylized shapes. Some boards are backed with a rigid material such as wood so they stand up, while others are backed with durable fabric such as canvas so they can be rolled or folded for storage. Many games and other playsets in this product line have a cloth bag that opens up into a play surface. Other items include large cubes, spheres, tables, room dividers, or curtains. Playing surfaces may be permanently marked with small Feelipa symbols to indicate colors (such as blue sky and green grass) or left blank for players to label.

FeelieForms come in mini, small, medium, large, and jumbo sizes so they can hold or cover many of the other game pieces made by Play All. An advantage of sets with bases is that they're more stable on a soft surface and less likely to tip over. The standard fabrics are felt and cotton, always available. Sometimes they do limited runs of other fabrics, like a silky set or a velvet set. The most popular of these features the textured fabric color code used in the FeelieBeans. Some pieces are small enough to swallow, and none of them are meant for mouthing, so these are for ages 3 and up.

FeelieBeans are inclusive beanbags. Each style comes in mini, small, medium, large, and jumbo sizes stuffed with light, medium, or heavy filling. The fabrics, dyes, and fillings are all hypoallergenic. One style uses textured fabric to indicate color: silky polyester (red), houndstooth (orange), popcorn cloth (yellow), corduroy (green), seersucker (blue), brocade (purple), fake fur (brown), muslin (white), flannel (gray), and cableknit (black). Another style uses the Feelipa symbols appliqued in thick, colored fabric over unbleached muslin. Some pieces are small enough to swallow, and none of them are meant for mouthing, so these are for ages 3 and up.

There are also matching targets in various styles. LoudHoops are sonic targets that use similar sound files as the Pux and Pottz. BrightHoops are lit with methods such as glow-in-the-dark plastic or rope lights. They come in mini, small, medium, large, and jumbo sizes that are just a bit bigger than the matching FeelieBeans. Hoops are available individually, in sets, or as part of larger pieces such as a cornhole board. People love to combine the BrightHoops with the kind of LED balls that light up when they bounce.

Taken together, FeelieBeans and their Hoops allow vision-impaired or colorblind people to play standard beanbag games. They're also enormously popular for blackout games played with a lit target such as a glowstick necklace or LED hula hoop. Every Fourth of July fireworks show has people running around with these things; they are as ubiquitous as glowsticks.

Snap, Tie, Button, Zip! began as an inclusive game or toy that launched the game system Softee Playable Parts, for which hundreds of rule sets have now been created. The original was designed as an applied game to teach infants and toddlers about clothing fasteners (snaps, laces, buttons, zippers) and introduce basic game mechanics (e.g. roll a die and follow its instructions). Both the fabric game board and the pieces attach to each other with different fasteners. The KeepSafe version has ribbons linking all the parts so nothing can get lost, recommended for younger children. The FlexiPlay version comes all the way apart, recommended for older children or adults. The original version has two big four-sided dice made of sturdy cloth, one showing four colors and one showing four fasteners. Later expansions have added more fasteners (vrip, buckles, etc.) and different combinations, so some dice have more sides and there are even d2 versions that repeat the same side. There are now activity dice too, with words and/or pictures. Fabric "cards" in the same style allow people to draw instructions from a stack.

Softee Playable Parts are sold individually or in packages with a certain theme (e.g. winter clothes, high-contrast) or age range (e.g. teen, adult). Decorations vary widely so that older players are not stuck using a game that looks like a baby toy. Infant and toddler versions have jumbo parts that are safe to use and can't be swallowed. Some versions for older players have smaller parts and/or more delicate materials like lace that require more care to use, but most are still durable and washable. So there are pop-themed packages for teens with sport injuries or classic characters for adult stroke survivors. Most of the expansions are FlexiPlay and there are now thousands of items to choose from; people buy these things in big bundles like Legos for birthdays and holidays. So people can assemble a game board and pieces any way they want, and the game absolutely will not come apart accidentally during play. For instance, you can make a square track and move your pawn by unbuttoning it from one square and buttoning it onto another square.

Softee Playable Parts offer diverse entertainment options. SofteeDarks are blackout parts marked with ColorADD and/or Feelipa symbols so you can play entirely in tactile mode. SofteeShades are shadowplay parts that anchor in various ways to stand upright. SofteeMagz conceal wearable magnets inside the cloth parts. SofteeSounds incorporate noisemakers such as a squeaker or rattle. SoftEZ has big vrip pieces that are very easy to attach and detach. You can even take any outside toy that uses fasteners, or make your own, and add it to Snap, Tie, Button, Zip! by using dice, a game track, and/or other methods. Like any modular game, it can be as simple or complex as players wish. With a little ingenuity, you can replicate many boxed games in this tactile format, and Play All sells a number of such game packages like Button Chess, Vrip Scrabble, Buttons & Zippers (Chutes & Ladders), and Tic-Tac-Snap.

Sign In, Sign Out is a sign language applied game. The theme involves people roleplaying characters in a helping profession. The original options were police, firefighters, paramedics, and search-and-rescue; later expansions have added more such as chaplains and social workers. The catch is, some employees, citizens, and antagonists are hearing-impaired and/or speech-impaired so they use sign language. The game involves sign language cards for vocabulary and fingerspelling, along with sign language polyhedral dice for counting. Local-American playing pieces only have the signs, while Terramagne-American versions are large enough to include Braille too.

Sign In, Sign Out has a cooperative mode and a competitive mode. The basic version uses standard American Sign Language. The advanced version uses pro-tactile ASL, which T-America uses to teach teamwork because every conversation requires it, and adds some characters who are deafblind. Due to small pieces and complexity, this is not a game for children under 3. The basic version is recommended for ages 7+ and the advanced version for ages 10+ but those are flexible. Many players are teens and adults, but some younger children enjoy observing the game for conversational practice.

Torches and Pitchforks is a shadowplay game. The theme revolves around discovering monsters and how people respond to that. It has multiple play modes that involve different goals (capture the monster, help the monster escape, etc.), number and placement of torches (one in the middle, one per villager, etc.), numbers of monster or villager players (one monster vs. eight villagers, two villagers trying to find four monsters, etc.), and so on. Aspects include hunting, positional, and/or roleplaying. The board can be set up with evergreen trees for a wilderness adventure or buildings for an urban adventure, which drastically changes play that always revolves around seeking or avoiding light and shadows. Generally, the monsters are safe in shadow but vulnerable in light, while the villagers are safe in light but vulnerable in shadows. There are several different monsters, each making a different sound; a light sensor in the pawn makes the sound louder in shadow and quieter in light. Originally all the villagers were the same and just made a crowd noise, louder in light and quieter in shadow. Later expansions added a few with individual professions, powers, and sound effects like the distinctive double-chime of the blacksmith's hammer. The board and pieces are large so that the playing area can spread out enough to hear where the pieces are, but can be laid out in different sizes. The trees or buildings fasten in place so players can feel them without knocking them over, and some of them actually clip the tiles together.

Any of the binary playing pieces can be used to play games that change pieces between two states, such as tic-tac-toe or Conway's Game of Life. With pairs, you can play Memory. You can also construct sets of opposing pieces, such as using face-up pieces and face-down pieces in go or checkers.

Play All addresses the accessibility issues of manuals. All of their game instructions come in hard copy or electronic versions with text, audio, and/or video. They support a vast range of languages and writing systems including Braille and American Sign Language. Where possible, a visual-native version uses icons and illustrations instead of verbal instructions, although not all games lend themselves to this. In games where color matters, ColorADD and Feelipa symbols accompany those references. This isn't just about manual accessibility; those games often incorporate the same symbols on their parts. All games come in Arabic, English, Esperanto, French, Hindustani, German, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish. Instruction sheets and pamphlets include all of those; more complex games or those based on language (e.g. Vrip Scrabble) may have separate editions. Many more languages are available for a variety of games, although some obscure languages are only available for a limited selection of games.

Games with multiple levels of difficulty use simpler language for the easier level(s) and more sophisticated language for the harder level(s) to adapt to different users. The visual-native version works better than the text version for many people with cognitive limitations. Because Play All tends to make versatile game systems, people have created countless variations on what to do with the parts, and many of those games are customized to accommodate a particular disability or cluster of disabilities. The company routinely hosts contests with prizes for people to devise inclusivity hacks, new rules, or even whole games. The Play All website includes a search engine so you can find playing pieces, boards, rules, etc. suited to special needs of a particular type. Conversely, game packages and manuals indicate conditions they are more or less suited to accommodate (e.g. large pieces for low dexterity, small pieces for high dexterity). The development process includes accessibility teardowns, and the website posts these along with ones done after release.

There are many spinoff products such as embossed greeting cards and t-shirts made with puff paint featuring images from Play All games, the same way people use dice and poker cards as imagery.

Play All also produces a variety of products for the ColorADD and Feelipa colorcoding systems. There are stickers, metal tags, plastic tags, blocks, and other items with the symbols either flat or raised. The flat ones are cheaper and easier to produce, thus lower priced, and preferred by sighted or colorblind people. The raised ones are for vision-impaired people or inclusive use. Other sets include the symbols in rigid materials such as metal, glass, ceramic, wood, or plastic. These can be combined with each other, or other Play All products such as blank Chocks, or anyone else's products. People use them to make game pieces, toys, adaptive equipment, artwork, or other things.

Then there is Paletta, a set of highly durable art media for making visual-tactile art. It's similar to the sculpture additives for oil or acrylic paints, and the texture gels used in papercrafts. For the paints you mix in something to make it stand off the page, and some of those ingredients are pretty toxic. The craft stuff is much safer, and it works the opposite -- you add pigments to a base gel or paste. Some are available in premixed colors, others meant for you to mix your own. Another method is to use white or clear texture media, then paint over it; while less durable, this uses a lot less pigment. A clear topcoat can be applied to protect to the art further. Most of the stuff on the market, whether professional or hobby grade, is not intended for frequent handling. The Paletta versions are for art that's meant to be touched a lot. That means they also work great for making or modifying game pieces.

The Feel and See Art Movement that began in Terramagne around 2000 is inspired somewhat by this, although people use all kinds of materials in it. Colors are indicated with textures as well as pigments; for example, grass is often combed while leaves are typically ragged. Some people favor additives, like using glass bead gel for blue water and blended fibers for white clouds. Mosaics can be made with ColorADD or Feelipa symbols, or the artist's own system such as pennies for copper and bottlecaps for silver. These are enormously popular among blind artists because they can glue down pieces and feel the art taking shape as they go along. However, some critics mock it as childish and clumsy, which has led to a lot of nasty arguments.

Feel and See Art is meant to be touched as well as seen. Some of it is made from rigid materials like glass that don't hold dirt easily, don't wear down fast, and can be cleaned without damage. Some is made from malleable media that harden, which are somewhat less durable, but still a lot better than things not designed for this purpose. Some is made from ephemeral media, most often the standard art supplies for professional or hobby use, with the intent of it wearing away over time. This is most popular among Asian artists who favor wabi-sabi aesthetics. Regrettably this spawned another appalling argument when critics condemned it as "Fall Apart Art" and Asian people sued them for A) defamatory remarks and B) racism. But it's really a values disagreement: some people think entropy is beautiful while others think it's ugly.

In T-America, the government provides extensive grants, subsidies, and other programs to make inclusive games, toys, and art supplies available to a wide range of people. Emphasis goes to stocking them in schools and for disabled individuals, free or cheap, but ideally they should be available to everyone. It helps that the National Endowment for the Arts has 100 times the budget in T-America that it does in L-America.

Tags: , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

Leave a comment