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A friend of mine is blind and she said she'd love to play something. And she meant something non-trivial. Do you know any games where you actually don't need to see? I thought about diplomacy kind of game where all you need to do is talk (political/historical background seems interesting), but could you please give me some solid examples of such games?


Let me narrow it down a little bit: AFAIK my friend does not know Braille yet. She's an adult, so simple games just won't cut it. It would also be her first game after becoming blind so it can't be too complex. I see the simple/complex contradiction - by "not simple" I mean with interesting storyline or background and by "not complex" I mean mechanically easy without many elements to remember (I suppose it's easier to remember an ongoing story than a set of cards and/or various numerical values, that's why I'm pushing it a little bit towards spoken games). And maybe one more, minor thing: it's definitely not a must, but I'd appreciate if it was available in Poland or was easily adaptable to polish language.

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Normally I'd say this kind of question would be too open-ended, but there are so few deep strategy games that don't require sight. –  Joe Apr 23 at 23:43
Boardgamegeek has this old thread with a good number of suggestions: boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/1860/… –  Jefromi Apr 24 at 0:00
This Kickstarter project ending really soon might be of interest??? –  ikegami Apr 24 at 2:43
@Joe Most games normally require sight, sure, but you might be surprised how many could be converted not to need it with a bit of marking and a little help from sighted players. –  Jefromi Apr 24 at 15:31
I wonder if we could make some more constructive questions out of this. We all do really want to help, but this really is a bit open-ended; there are a lot of games which can be made suitable with some level of modification. (Any card game without too much on the table works, for example.) Perhaps more useful questions: how do you look at a game and decide whether it'll work? What's the best way to mark cards? What about simple tiles? (I think especially with the broad question, since we're probably all sighted, we're prone to making unnecessary assumptions.) –  Jefromi Apr 24 at 17:13

4 Answers 4

I see three kind of games:

1. Just for fun games

In these games, there is no point in winning, just having fun is enough. What comes in mind is Aye, Dark Overlord!, where the goal is to explain to your Overlord, as a minion, why you totally screw up the very important mission he just gave you. It's basically a speaking-only game and there is absolutely no harm in seeing her cards and telling her what she's got in hands. Plus, the players only have 3 cards in hand, which means she basically have 3 names to remember.

2. Non-hidden games Need a better name

In these games, everything is public, no one has anything to hide. It's most of the time only strategy. In these, it's easy to ask what color is a piece without revealing your strategy. She can play most of them as long as you are willing to sacrifice your game by marking the pieces (each color with a different material). I'd say Quarto! fits the description, simply mark the dark pieces with Play Doh, for example.

3. Co-op games

In those, a strategy can be discussed and the other players can tell her "your idea is good, but there is a detail you obviously can see". I recommand Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, in which the players read a kind of gamebook, each chapter being a bit of investigation. She can simply let someone else read when she's supposed to and still decide what is to do with the clues you've just collected.


As a colorblind person myself, I do something with my games: each time there are colors that are hard to see for me, I ask someone to mark all the cards, pieces or tiles of one color with a marker. It doesn't bother the other players but helps me differenciate the colors. It can be possible to do the same with little holes (in braille?) or any other kind of marking. But this marking might be permanent.

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I'm not sure no hidden information is the right name for your second category. If there's hidden information, it's hidden from everyone - why does that cause a problem? For example, plenty of card games have hidden information (private hands), and they'll work just fine with braille playing cards. If anything, having hidden information makes things easier: it's less stuff you need to either mark or keep track of mentally. –  Jefromi Apr 24 at 7:15
I like the suggestion of "Aye, Dark Overlord." Another, somewhat similar game is Fiasco. It does need some dice rolling and table lookup, but I'm guessing dice are perfectly 'feelable'? Which leaves the tables, but those could be rendered in braille. –  EagleV_Attnam Apr 24 at 12:05
Okay, I know I said "name" but the description for your second category also says everything is public. I think really what you're trying to say is "describable/markable games"? Things where the public information can all be conveyed by either other players describing it or marking the pieces, and pieces can be marked for private information? This will generally mean not having too much public information - you don't want a huge board with 100 pieces in specific positions. –  Jefromi Apr 24 at 15:27
+1 for "co-op games". I really think this is the best place to start. No information hiding is necessary and you can get a good sense of what "visual" information is lost to the player, guiding future choices. –  bengoesboom Apr 24 at 19:35

As well as games that can be played just through talk, it's good to consider games that would be fun to play blind.

Primarily tactile games with open information would hopefully fit the bill, although they might test memory a little more than usual. More traditional games like Chess would be workable, but very difficult.

I think a great option would be a game like Mancala. There wouldn't be too much to remember, and the tactile nature of play would be quite satisfying.

You could also modify another game to use tactile elements. For instance, imagine playing Coloretto, but when a card was drawn, you replaced it with a distinctly shaped object depending on the colour (obviously would need a sighted opponent/adjudicator). This would add a tactile element to having the objects in front of you, and taking them.

Another possibility: If you wanted to play a card game with closed information, you could consider opaque sleeves and braille on the cards. A blind player could subtly unsleeve their card and feel it to "read" it. This might open up closed-information card games if you don't mind modifying your components.

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Why do the sleeves need to be opaque? Also, you can likely just put the braille on the sleeves - no need to unsleeve to read, and the sleeves are more easily replaceable if you mess something up –  Jefromi Apr 24 at 15:14
@Jefromi I was assuming they wanted to play against a sighted opponent. Without opaque sleeves, the indentation on the card may be visible to the naked eye, and an opponent might understand it. Obviously if all involved players are blind, the sleeves need not be opaque. –  Johno Apr 24 at 15:49
You don't have you braille the cards directly. You can use labels. –  Jefromi Apr 24 at 16:08
Oops, apparently the OP doesn't know braille, so I guess it doesn't really matter for this question. –  Jefromi Apr 24 at 18:35

I would keep tabs on this kickstarter that got successfully funded.

Board Games Now Blind Accessible

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While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. –  winterblood Apr 29 at 11:46

A few games come to mind as readily modifiable for blind play, and a few as playable out of the box.

Out of the box

Versions of Othello have been released in the past with raised lines defining the spaces; the pieces in that are slightly concave on the black side, and flat on the white. Othello Classic appears to be the current title for this, but I can't tell if it has the standard pieces. (Note that the Travel version has double-flat pieces, while many versions of the full size have simple printed grids, not raised.) Maxiaids.com has a version using rods with a brad in one end, rather than discs.

Mancala as a 2-player game can be played out of the box with only minor issues - the typical rule of not touching others' pits must be ignored for the blind player. Mancala as a series game, as presented in "capture the pit" play in the Oh-wah-ree version by 3M, has issues in multi-player (marbles being used to denote who owns which pit), but one player could substitute beads, another use empty pits, etc, allowing for even multi-player play.

Dominoes. While a traditional "family game", it's actually got some strategy, and is inherently blind-friendly with standard pieces. One blind acquaintance has burned out on it because it was the only blind-friendly game at school.

Rumikub. Some sets are deeply embossed; with one of these, the blind player may be able to feel the numbers without modifications. We had to go to using face down pile on the table instead of drawing from a bag because my set was deeply enough embossed for me to tell what I was drawing.

Mah Jongg can be played once the blind player learns the piece faces - a larger set is better. Most sets use engraved images (the others are cards). Since even the scoring is done using dot-marked sticks, it's just a matter of learning curve.

Score Sheet modifications only

Catan Dice - the dice are only slightly embossed in the wood dice versions, but more deeply so in the plastic dice versions. The score sheet can be replaced with a braille linear matt, and markers for showing what's been taken. Coins can be used for score keeping.

Modifications - add texture

Travel Blokus, with the smooth pieces, can be modified by careful drilling. Drill holes through one color, in every square of every piece of that color. You now have a tactile version. The blind player can feel the board state, the pieces aren't likely to move, and there is no information loss nor gain.

Standard Blokus - if you have two identically sized sets, one with the pieces with hollows, and one with the smooth sided pieces, you can swap a color out in the process. If you have a single smooth-faced set, drill out one color as for travel. If you have a hollowed set, fill the hollows with glue. Or use a texturing on one color. The blind player can feel the alternate face, but can't ID the other colors as separate, but their own move is only trivially hampered by playing this way.

Hive - Since the pieces are not randomized at all, and the images are depressed, only a tiny modification is needed - some means of telling one color from the other; texturing is suggested. It would be best to play on a slightly tacky surface, such as a warm vinyl placemat or a non-slip cabinet liner, so the pieces don't readily slide when touched.

Kids of Catan - you need to texture the player pieces, but that's it. The die is pipped, the commodities can be told by shape, and one can readily play ignoring the slot colors (and in fact, doing so makes the game far more tactical, as does allowing movement either direction). One could add braille labels to the slots, as well, and play the game unmodified. It's simple, but with allowing movement either direction, not totally inane, and very pretty for the sighted folks.

major modding...

Cathedral, as a game, should be playable, except that the pieces don't lock to the board. This can be fixed with drilling holes in the board, and adding not-quite-flush nails to the piece bottoms to lock them in. This also turns it into a decent back-seat-of-the-car or on-the-bus version for longer trips. for totally sightless play, one should texture one set of pieces, as well - sand glued to the roofs is practical and pretty.

Chess can be modded by use of a board with raised square edges and two different sets of pieces with different shapes, and again, ignoring the no-touch rule. Alternatively, the board can be drilled, and pins inserted into the pieces' bases, and one side textured, just like Cathedral.

Diplomacy - the hardest part is not knocking the pieces around. The solution? use a thin bead of caulk to define the board space's edges, braille label the spaces by name, and use distinctive shaped or textured pieces for each player. One might also texture (with blue sand) the seas. For example, one player might be full height cubes, another half height, a third half height textured, a 4th using cylinders full height, and 5th with half-height cylinders, and a 6th and 7th using full and half-height triangles.

Texturing pieces

Many games pieces can be textured. For games like Hive, where the pieces are bakelite, or blokus, where they are polycarbonate, and shape determines piece type, one can texture the surface with only minor cosmetic issues.

If you have a belt sander available, use a medium grit belt and a VERY light touch. Using double stick tape, secure the pieces to a piece of scrap board, and clamp that to the table. Make a single pass with the belt sander on low speed in order to create furrows on the surface. Flip, and repeat for the other side for blokus pieces.

If you wish to go the glue and sand route, apply a very thin layer of glue to the face to be textured, then press that face into a bowl of sand, remove, and let dry.

Braille Drilling

A number of games using bakelite or plastic tiles can have braille drilled in; some blind folks find this acceptable, others don't. If used, set your stops on a drill press to prevent drilling completely through, and mark all the dots first.

Brailling of cards

Most card games can be done in braille - either by directing brailling the cards, or by braille stickering.

A few have been done by punching holes in the cards, but this marks the cards.

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