Gaming and Accessibility: Colorblind Friendly Games by Emma Fish

Have you ever had a patron request a recommendation for a colorblind gamer?

Libraries aims to prioritize inclusivity and accessibility however they can, and board game collections should be no different. Luckily there are plenty of great resources available to help guide collection managers to curate the best selections possible!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if a game may be colorblind friendly:

  • Does the game use information besides color to tell different pieces apart (different shapes, corresponding symbols, etc.)?
  • Are the colors that are included distinct from one another, or are they shades that are close in tone?
  • Is there a player aid to help you differentiate pieces?

The website Colorblind Games Colorblind Gaming 101 (colorblindgames.com) has great information to learn more about accessibility from a first-hand perspective.

Here are my top three recommendations for colorblind gamers!

Calico

• Designer: Kevin Russ
• 1-4 players
• 30-45 minutes
• Ages 10+

This tile laying and pattern matching game is a riot of colors and patterns! Your goal is to create the best quilt by aligning tiles in a way that earns you points. As you lay down more tiles, you’ll have to make tricky choices about which patterns should go next to which, and how to use your dwindling space wisely.

Why it works for colorblind players: There are 6 distinct patterns and 6 distinct colors. Each color has its own symbol; the yellow tiles, for example, have a crescent moon in the corner so that you know what the tile is even if you can’t discern the color itself. This symbol is carried through from the tiles to the extra point buttons, meaning that a colorblind player can play autonomously without much outside help.

Isle of Cats

• Designers: Frank West
• 1-4 players
• 30-90 minutes
• Ages 8+

Save an island full of cats from pillaging pirates by sorting as many as possible onto your ship! In this game you manage resources in order to rescue cats, then you fit them together like a puzzle to keep families of cats together. It has a simplified family mode and a solo mode in addition to regular play.

Why it works for color blind players: The different cat families are distinct from one another not just in color, but in shape and personality. They have different fur patterns and body designs that are reflected on the cards, on the tiles, and on the meeples. There is also an additional reference card specifically designed to help colorblind players with differentiation!

MicroMacro: Crime City

• Designer: Johannes Sich
• 1-4 players
• 15-45 minutes
• Ages 12+ (mature content)

You take on the role of a detective and you are given a giant illustrated city map full of characters and crimes. You use your deductive skills trace the paths characters take and their environments to try to solve the mysteries you are assigned! This game was the 2021 Spiel des Jahres Winner.

Why it works for colorblind players: Printed entirely in black and white, this game has zero color dependence. Players who experience colorblindness can enjoy this game with no accommodations necessary!

Happy Gaming Everybody!

Emma Fish is a library worker and game collection manager at Lebanon Public Library in Lebanon, Oregon. The library started it’s game collection in 2020, and it now circulates 60+ individual games.


Would you like to contribute to the blog? That would be wonderful!

Contact us at gamert@ala.org.

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