Accessibility in the Game of Life

Knight-119My loving husband plays many roles. He is my best friend, father of our two wonderful daughters, my partner in life, and, in the midst of all of this, a caregiver to yours truly. T.R. is also a very creative and intelligent fellow who has always enjoyed games of many types. For Christmas, he gave me a group of special gifts: ones that would help make my own enjoyment of games more accessible, you could say.

On his own blog, T.R. painted a pretty accurate picture of challenges some face when it comes to accessibility and gaming. The need for quickness, small text, color issues, trouble manipulating tiny pieces… these can all cause frustration that zaps the enjoyment from play.

He received a variety of responses, and as I was thinking of how I could best write about this topic here, a question  was posed by one of his readers: what games does his wife enjoy playing? There was my topic! So below is the post that appeared on his blog, Freelance Knight, this morning.

T.R.’s wife here. After last week’s great post about accessibility in gaming, some have wondered about my own thoughts. What games do I like? And my own addition to this question: how has this changed over the past few years?

During our first years of marriage, T.R. and I enjoyed playing games when we could, but there weren’t a lot of 2-person options. This was more than 20 years ago, you know. (And I was a middle school teacher, so there wasn’t a lot of game time except during holiday breaks.) When T.R. was visiting a game shop in Indianapolis in early 1997, though, he asked a worker there for suggestions for a game his wife would enjoy… and this is when “Fluxx” entered our home. We both loved it, and I never imagined that it would still be a favorite almost twenty years later. Or that we would have eight or so different versions of this game in our cabinet.

Why do I mention this? First, because some things don’t change. This game is still a favorite due to its wackiness, its intelligent simplicity, and its measured randomness. Secondly, play of this game (and other card games we enjoy) could be simplified for me with the simple, nifty card-holding device T.R. gave me as a Christmas gift. I look forward to using this!

Angie wins Lexigo
Angie wins Lexigo

What other games do I enjoy? To be honest, I really enjoy word games. Our newest one is Lexigo, and I also enjoy the word-building card game Quiddler. Then there’s always Scrabble! (This game generally annoys my dear husband, but he has found the “Book Lover’s” edition more palatable, I think.)

When it comes to other board games, T.R. had a good point in that I appreciate games that do not require extreme speed or manual dexterity. This is something that has changed since the advent and progression of multiple sclerosis in my life. For somebody who used to play piano and enjoyed creating jewelry and such with polymer clay or beads, games that involve moving small objects quickly or in a targeted manner are discouraging. I do not play games to become frustrated with my own inabilities, but to enjoy interaction with others in a targeted, creative, and fun way.

As such, other games I enjoy include Quilt ShowTakenokoSplendorTsuroCodenames, and Diamonds. Cooperative games I’ve really enjoyed also include Hanabi and Kings of Israel. In addition to these newer games, I still enjoy the trick-taking card game Euchre, along with traditional dice-rolling Yahtzee or Farkle. (Interestingly, all three of these are also playable electronically, often with others who live far away.)

What makes these games stand out for me? The games above are ones I can enjoy of my own volition, without needing to be completely dependent on a partner. Life’s limitations have grown over the recent years, and games present a chance for me to experience fun without facing quite so many frustrations. I also feel like having to be too dependent on a partner takes away from the enjoyment that he or she is experiencing.

That having been said, I know that other family members enjoy diversions that I don’t appreciate quite so much. Games that involve speed or battles or cards with a lot of small text to quickly interpret… well, these are fun to watch and listen to. But me playing them will likely frustrate others as much as yours truly. [little explanation: I generally enjoy reading, but scars on the optic nerves have led to “internuclear ophthamoplegia,” where my eyes don’t always like to work together. Smaller or hard-to-distinguish print makes reading particularly tough.]

I mentioned initially that Fluxx is a game I really enjoy. But what about the cards with a lot of text? You see, after 19 years, this is familiar and predictable text. And the print isn’t too small. Also, it’s fun to have a game we can play the same way we did before I even knew what MS was. In years to come, one thing I’m certain of is that life will be uncertain. Like this game, the rules will change in a split second, and what do we do? We play along. We laugh, we become frustrated, somebody wins, we reshuffle, and we get ready to begin again. I suppose you could say that my own game of Life is in Flux. Thankfully, my own version of this game is cooperative, and I have a great team.


Angie fluxxOn my own blog here I do wish to thank Andy Looney for his part in the story of a life in flux. (or in Fluxx.) Thanks, Looney Labs!










Thirty Days of Thanks – Day 28 – many thanks today!

fluxx back
the back of the card you see in #4

As you could likely surmise yesterday, I’m not feeling wonderful. But I am able to still experience many wonderful parts of life, and there is so much to be thankful for!  What, you ask? Well…

  1. Cough medicine – When two bugs hit one at the same time, antibiotics may have tamed the infection/fever, but a good, strong cough medicine helped me finally sleep soundly last night. Thank you, NyQuil! (I very rarely use this, but last night was a night it was needed.)
  1. Online school registration – When our daughters were in Kindergarten, I remember going in the week before school to complete and sign innumerable numbers of forms, and I had to wait in at least three different lines (I think four, including the line for bus routes). This would take a few hours. I recall asking. “Do we really need to do this in person?” Thankfully, they did start digital registration a few years ago, and this year’s new software at the school made it go more smoothly than any other year. As of yesterday, our registrations are successfully completed. Awesome!
  1. garden bruchettaGarden Bruchetta – Though actual bruchetta at a restaurant is generally made with diced tomato and such, for our own version, we have found that toast, covered with garlic scape pesto, then stacked with a large, fresh tomato slice and Parmesan cheese is a wonderful lunch snack!
  1. Angie fluxx
    my own Fluxx card that is only valid when signed by the game creator. 

    Family game smiles – One of my favorite family games for the last few years has been “Fluxx.” T.R. and I first played this game in 1997, and at Gen Con this year, we received special cards signed by the creator, Andrew Looney (a former rocket scientist who now runs a game company, Looney Labs, with his wife). The pen and ink illustration is a fun representation of the game maker. If you’ve not played Fluxx before, give it a try. Or at least come and read the cards… they’re fun in a quirky sort of way.

  1. Mostly free movies – When we search online, we use Bing! and collect points we can turn in for rewards… a month of regular searching is more than enough for $5 toward a Fandango movie ticket. I know this sounds silly, but using these certificates has helped us view some great movies at the area theater. At the start of the week, we enjoyed “Mr. Holmes.” It was indeed lovely! A fun imagining of Sherlock Holmes a few decades after his retirement, and Ian Mckellen portrayed the elder Sherlock splendidly.

As some less enjoyable parts of life keep inserting themselves, I am certainly enjoying the task of purposefully, pointedly finding where I should be giving thanks. I am incredibly blessed, and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are also. Nice to remember, isn’t it?