We believe that play is for everyone, so in designing our games there are certain considerations we make to ensure they are as accessible as they can be. Read more below about how we test for color sensitivities, and the tools we have for finding the right game for someone on the autism spectrum.
When creating our games, the color choices we make are based on several factors- the theme of the game and the targeted player age of the game. But most importantly our color choices need to be recognizable to all the players playing the game, so those with color sensitivities or color vision deficiencies (CVDs) are considered. We use specially-designed software to help us understand what our games look like to individuals with these challenges.
Color choices can often help with the basic understanding of a game’s mechanics. As players we will naturally interpret the color red as “stop” and the color green as “go”. However, this does not work for someone with color vision deficiencies as those two colors can often look the same. 5-10% of the world population has color deficiencies.
CVDs are caused by the absence or abnormal function of one or more cones in the eye. CVDs can present on a scale from mild to heavy, and can either be hereditary or acquired.
Our team considers those who have color and sight deficiencies, in the development of our games. Many of our designs and color choices are made with the goal that everyone can enjoy our games.
The three main types of color vision deficiency we test against are:
- Deuteranomaly -reduced sensitivity to green light (most common)
- Protanomaly -reduced sensitivity to red light.
- Tritanomaly -reduced sensitivity to blue light (rare)
We avoid choosing shades of colors that will not be discernable, especially certain shades of reds and greens. Instead, we use colors that can be differentiated and when possible, add patterns, shapes, or other visual aids to help everyone to play.
Matching games are where this is the most important. For Digger’s Garden Match and Animal Snacks we added patterns to the tiles and die.
For Marble Matrix we selected marble colors that could be seen as unique shades/colors values.
Taking the time to examine and adjust our color choices when designing each game ensures that everyone can play together without having to take extra steps or adjust the rules.
To help parents, caregivers, and teachers build on the strengths exhibited by children on the autism spectrum we’ve built an advanced search function into our shop to help find the right games for each child. We begin by asking what the child likes to do or strengths you are trying to build on such as spatial reasoning or memory. We then ask what special considerations such as challenges with dexterity, attention or communication might limit suitability of the game.
For example you can chose to search for games that allow for more independent play, are predictable to play, build dexterity and motor skills, help build spatial reasoning, strengthen memory, use reading skills to build comprehension and more.
Some of the ways that educational board games might benefit autistic children include:
- Board games have rules and the rules are set and predictable. That feels comfortable to many children with autism. Actions are repeated, though perhaps with variations, in each turn. This aspect of routine and predictability is a motivator for children to repeat game play.
- Games involve turn taking, but most games do not require that players make eye contact. Rather, the board is the focus of the game. Thus, children learn to wait to repeat their turn and begin to pay attention to others’ actions and comments in the interim.
- Board games are primarily visual, spatial, and tactile. Many children with autism are visual learners. Board games allow children to use their visual strengths, to analyze a situation, compare options, and determine a result. Children with autism may be able to see visual details quickly and remember them. They may be able to visualize spatial relationships or use visual-spatial memory to compare options for the movement of pieces.
- Most board games involve some aspect of mathematics- counting, matching numbers, colors, geometric shapes, or using patterns. A number of children on the autism spectrum excel at using math operations and seeing spatial or number patterns. Board games involving math concepts can allow children with these skills to practice, enhance, and demonstrate their knowledge.
Other Special Needs
Our Play Advisory team also evaluates the game’s for suitability for a variety of other situations such as Cognitive, Communication, Sensorimotor, Social Emotional/Behavioral, Vision and Hearing challenges. We also include information on how the game may be modified to make the game accessible for players that may have those challenges.