American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections Convention Issue 2015 ANNUAL MEETINGS
by Richard Gibbs
From the Editor: For decades the number of board games available to blind players has been limited to a handful of beloved standards such as Scrabble, Monopoly, checkers, and chess. Richard Gibbs has ushered in a board-game revolution with a new company called 64 Oz. Games, which he described at the NOPBC's annual meeting.
My name is Richard Gibbs. I recently founded a company called 64 Oz. Games. I've been involved in the NFB for more than ten years now, but in the past year or so I've become even more involved by creating this company.
I've loved board games all my life. My family communicates by sitting around the table playing a board game, trying to hurt each other. [Laughter] Since I love board games so much, I wanted to find a way to make and sell them. I needed to find a way to stand out, and I was told many times that I should design a board game for blind people because I've been involved in the blind community. Whenever someone said that, I'd say, "I don't want to design a board game for blind people. I'd rather get board games that already exist into the hands of blind people." There's no reason you should come at board games with a preconception of what can and cannot be done.
My company ran a Kickstarter campaign. It was successful, and it enabled us to get an embosser, a 3D printer, and some other material. We have a website now called <www.64ozgames.com>. We sell what we call "accessibility kits." They consist of sticky Braille labels and the sleeves that fit around the cards for an existing retail product. People go to our website and buy our accessibility kits. They buy the retail game through Amazon or some other website. When everything arrives, they have to assemble the game, putting on the labels. But once it's assembled, they have all the necessary materials. We also have tactile graphics for games where those are necessary. Anything that's necessary to make the game accessible, we include it in our kit; you'll always know that this is a game you can play with your blind child.
We just formed a partnership with a company that makes games for little kids. These games aren't just another version of Candyland, where you just spin the spinner and go to a particular color. With these games, even a game for a two-year-old, you actually have to make decisions. We have one game called Ear Tub that has a lot of tactile objects. It builds color recognition, shape recognition, and logical thinking. All of our kids' games do that.
As your kids get older, we have games that are more advanced. We have games such as Sushi Dough that can be played by adults and children. Again, these games require players to make meaningful decisions. You win or lose based on how you play the game. It isn't like Monopoly, where you win or lose based on where you land your first couple of times around the board.
One of our more advanced games is called Resistance. It calls for five to ten players, and two of the players are secretly spies. Everyone is trying to figure out who the spies are. Another game, Apples to Apples, involves a lot of reading, and it can really help build Braille skills.
In our store we already have more than one hundred accessibility kits, and we're adding more every day. We plan to keep expanding. Our kits usually cost about the same as the game itself, so you get an accessible version for about double the price of the original game. The price varies, based on what we have to do to make the game accessible.