Why December IS My Favorite Time Of The Year!

Why December IS My Favorite Time Of The Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you’ve all had a happy festive period. I know I did. Unlike a  lot of bloggers, I’m not going to do a 2016 retrospective, that would have required a lot of planning and forethought on my part and anyone who knows me, well they know that’s not me.

Instead, as a gamer, I thought it fitting that my first blog post of 2017 should be all about the new games that the last month of 2016 left me with. I’m lucky in that December doesn’t only bring me Christmas, it also delivers to me my Birthday. For us gamers however, December has one more surprise up it’s sleeves, the Steam Winter Sale. So you can imagine, I do look forward to December.

Tabletop Treats

I’ll start with the board games that were left under the tree for me when I woke up, all bleary eyed on Christmas Day.

Seven Wonders Duel

This game was recommended to me some time ago on twitter. Then after reading reviews of the game on sites such as Meeple Like Us, I’d made up my mind, I had to have it. My wife saved me the money and the effort though. I had an inkling that I would find this game sitting here waiting for me, as my wife had let it slip some time ago. It didn’t diminish how excited I was to finally get the first member of my tabletop collection though (outside of the usual fair of Monopoly and such like).

Seven Wonders Duel Board Game

Pokemon Monopoly – Kanto Edition

Speaking of Monopoly. My mum, bless her heart, knows that my wife and I are both into gaming. Knowing this and my wife’s love for Pokemon Go, she thought that Monopoly, Pokemon Edition would look right at home among our other games, adorning our games shelf and she was right.

Pokemon Monopoly Board Game

Monopoly Game Of Thrones Edition

As Pokemon is more for my wife than me really, my mum also bought us Monopoly Game Of Thrones Edition. Let me tell you, she hit the nail on the head with this one too, thanks mum.

Monopoly Game Of Thrones Board Game

Winter Is Coming

Holding onto the money I received for my Birthday in anticipation of the Steam Winter Sale, I was rewarded for my patience when it began on the 22nd of December.  Below is a list of the games I picked up during the sale.

MiniMetro

I hate them, yes, I hate the person who introduced me to this game. It has soaked up so much of my time and as a serial procrastinator I don’t have that much time to spare. Anyway, it’s A beautifully simplistic game available on PC as well as mobile.

Being a PC gamer at heart though, I chose to wait for the winter sale to see if I could pick it up at a nice discount which would bring it closer to it’s mobile OS based equivalent.  OK, hate might be a bit strong, love might be a better word to describe how I feel, about the person who pointed me in the direction of MiniMetro.

Banished

If I was to describe this game, I’d say it was a cross between a mid evil RTS game and a city builder. I bought it based purely on how it looked and  I can’t wait to find the time to get stuck into this one.

Golf With Your Friends

I have very little to do with my buying this game. When I mentioned how excited I was about MiniMetro being available for a discount during the Steam Winter Sale, a really good friend of mine @crystalfoxgirl also picked it up. So I thought I’d reciprocate the gesture and grab a  game she recommended to me. That game being Golf With Your Friends.

Brings the joy of Crazy Golf to your desktop, allowing you to share the experience with your friends around the world. We’re yet to play it together but I look forward to it.

Overcooked

I know what you’re thinking, “Did I buy this because it reminded me of my wife’s cooking  NO, how could you think such a thing…” (I’ll pay for that little dig at her cooking skills, just you wait). No I picked it up because it looked like an awesome local co-op game that my wife and I, as well as our extended family would have loads of fun playing together. This is probably one that would have made more sense buying for the PS4 but we’ll wait and see.

City Skylines

This is a game I’ve been looking at for a  while. I was reminded about it recently  though by a tweet from another member of the blind gaming community @BGMisadventures. So when it was included in the steam Winter Sale with a pretty steep discount, I just had to grab it.

The Gift Of Giving

I don’t hoard all the games to myself, oh no, I share my love for gaming with as many people who will listen, but as Croc (not his real name), my brother in law and my wife are right here with me , so I tend to give them gaming gifts when the occasion calls for it.

The Culling

Croc is a console convert. When I first found him, he was hooked up to an XBOX, it seemed to be feeding on his Call Of Duty rage while supplying him a steady stream of frags to keep him hooked.  It seamed a dangerous cycle, turning him into some kind of monster!

It took me some time but I finally weaned him off of consoles and onto the PC. He took up RTS games in a big way with games like Rome Total War and Stronghold Kingdoms. That being said he still likes hiss FPS games , a hang over from his console days. So Anime and I thought we’d treat him to The Culling.

Stardew Valley

My wife @crescent_2005 , (commonly referred to by me as Anime), has expensive tastes, this floods over onto her gaming habits too, so despite the heavy Steam Winter Sale discounts, I still found a lot of the games on her steam wish list a little pricey (not that she’s not worth it). Star dew Valley stood out though as one of the big hits of 2016 at a great price, after seeing her reaction to the trailer I just had to pick it up for her. Merry Christmas Anime. Maybe next year the other games on your wish list will be cheep enough for me to buy them for you.

You’re Still doing it wrong!

I know, I know. I said some time ago that I would start buying games based on their accessibility rating, however the number of games being released always out paces the communities ability to review or rate them all, based on their accessibility. Plus, I’m impulsive, sometimes I just have to have it, whatever it is.

Anyway, that’s me all spent up, so impulses or not these will be the last games I get for a  little while at least. Once I’ve had time with them, you can expect either written reviews, YouTube game play videos and reviews or both, so look forward to that. If I find them impossible or difficult to play you’ll hear about it and then they’ll either get retired to the shelf or to my ever growing steam library.

What did you find under the Christmas Tree?

Now you’ve read the list of games I’ve added to my collection over the Christmas period,  I’d love to hear what you found under your tree. Did your family pick you up a game you’ve had your eye on for ages, or did you treat yourself to a rare gem, let me know.

Feel free to leave a comment, contact me on twitter or hit me up on Facebook. As always, if you liked the post or think someone you know might like it, please share it using your social media of choice.

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Accessing Table Top Games!

Accessing Table Top Games!

My last post touched on a few aspects of Video Game accessibility for the visually impaired. I love video games, so much in fact I have forgotten how much fun can be had after you peal the cellophane off, then lift the lid of a new board game for the first time, all the corners of the box still crisp and sharp. Or perhaps dusting off the old battered boxes from the top of the wardrobe and settling in for yet another Monopoly marathon, fighting for your favorite piece and dealing out the well worn bank notes. With these fond memories in mind, this time I’m putting down the pixels and picking up the dice and turning my attention towards table top gaming.

A picture of the monopoly board game

Help Finding The Right Game

I thought I was all set, having gathered together a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy) selection of my favorite drinks and snacks to sustain me during my gaming marathon. I’d Persuaded members of my immediate family, that a night of board gaming will be nothing like the last time I threw my toys out of the pram when losing at Monopoly. Then, heading over to Amazon, the realisation hit me, I know absolutely nothing about table top gaming.

What I needed was a resource equivalent to game-accessibility.com. I had to have an informed opinion, like they provide for video games only this time focused toward table top gaming. A place that would tell me not only what the game play was like but also how accessible it was for a visually impaired person.

Then I remembered, some time ago, while perusing Twitter for fun and interesting people to follow, I came across  @meeplelikeus. The editor over at meeplelikeus  is @DrMichaelHeron. A lecturer in the School of Computing and Digital Media at Robert Gordon University. Other contributors at the site include Pauline Belford  and Hayley Reid . In their own words they are  “a group of gaming academics, developers, hobbyists and enthusiasts”.

At meeplelikeus they carry out in depth “tare downs'” and reviews of table top games. Offering well informed and in depth commentary on their current levels of accessibility and providing possible improvements that can be made.

They also provide written reviews of the vast majority of table top games they do accessibility Tare Downs of, from a game play perspective. Providing you with all the information you need to make an informed purchase. That sounds like just what I needed.

I Didn’t Think Of That

Approaching game accessibility from a visually impaired persons point of view, I some times forget all the other limiting factors, that may effect other people from accessing video games and table top gaming alike.

Thankfully meeplelikeus and game-accessibility.com didn’t forget. They cover a wide range of factors that may limit access to the games that they review. Including but not limited to how accessible the games are for visually impaired people.

 

But, The Table Top Game I Want To Play Isn’t Accessible

Don’t write that game off just yet! That’s what I love about board games over video games. If a video game isn’t accessible you’re almost entirely reliant on the developer to resolve that issue. When it comes to board games it’s different, we have the option to change a lot of the constraining elements.

Rules Are Made To Be Broken

The easiest and least expensive thing you can do to solve accessibility issues with board games is implement house rules. This may include for example playing as a team of two instead of individually. A visually impaired person could team up with a sighted person to read the game cards and then make strategy decisions together. You should of course  attempt to keep the rules as close to the original rule set as possible, as to experience the game as the author intended.

Accessibility Up Their Sleeves

If the accessibility issue can’t be resolved with a simple rule change, then there are ways around it, but it may involve you spending a penny or two. I was recently introduced to @64ozGames on twitter by @sedjtroll  a game designer. On their website, they provide accessibility kits for a wide variety of games.

This site is run by Richard and Emily Gibs. They are both teachers and dedicated to making games accessible to the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Their Game Accessibility Kits include, but are not limited to, brailled sleeves, to get around the problem of text printed on game cards, such as those in Cards Against Humanity.

 

The Fun Factor

After finding all these excellent resources, offering expert and well informed opinions, my 3 year old daughter decided it was her turn to have her say. “Pig Goes Pop! Please!” she shouted, as I reeled off a list of games I would like to play. She was insistent, after every suggestion I made, “Pig Goes Pop! Please!”

Pester Power having seemingly increased in it’s potency since I used to whaled it as a child, I had no choice but to surrender. Although not being the most accessible game for a blind person. With it’s use of a small coloured die indicating the colour of the burger the player feeds to the pig. The barely tactile numbers on the base of the burgers, indicating the number of times you press down the piggies head. Not to mention the fact the game play only consists of feeding burgers to a pig. I just didn’t have the inner strength to resist the pestering, cuddles and kisses of a three year old, as she pleaded with her father (me) to give her what she wanted.

 

Pig Goes Pop Game

With the accessibility limitations in mind, my daughter and I came to an agreement. In exchange for my help in pressing down the piggies head, as she wasn’t quite strong enough to do it herself, she would help me identify the colours on the die after my role. My son and daughter then took turns in reading out the numbers on the base of the burgers after each of our turns. All the limitations overcome, we settled in for a game of Pig Goes Pop.

That’s what you need to remember when it comes to gaming, the most important thing when choosing a game to play is the fun factor. The game you are playing should be fun and inclusive for all the people playing it. And when you see the smile on a three year old’s face when a very full piggy bursts out of it’s jacket and throws it’s arms up in the air. And almost burst with laughter yourself as her infectious giggle spread around all the people playing, you can’t help but remember that fact.

 

Your thoughts?

Like always, if you have any comments, please feel free to leave them below r get in touch with me on Twitter or Facebook. Do you have any resources as far as accessible gaming goes that you haven’t seen me mention? What games do you like to play? Let me know I want to hear it all. Also if you like the post, please consider sharing  using the social media links below. Thank you.