Accessibility in Gaming: Dyslexia
Gaming, either in video, tabletop, or role-playing format, should strive to be all-inclusive. This is sometimes difficult to accomplish, but I believe that doesn’t mean we should give up on trying to accommodate everyone. For some games this means adding shapes in addition to colors, so people with colorblindness can more easily distinguish between like parts. For games like ours, it means making the cards as easy to read as possible, especially for people who have dyslexia.
We’ve been discussing using fonts designed specifically for this purpose. Because if you’re one of these people and are having a hard time reading your cards, you would be, at best, at a slight disadvantage. At worst, you have to have others help you, or pick your cards at random. This was the case with one of our playtesters. He had a great time with the game, but he would need to ask someone next to him to tell him what his cards said, and he never knew what they said until they read it for him. (Dyslexia aside, playing cards at random is a totally valid and fun way to play this game.)
So I’ve been doing some research into these fonts recently. There are two popular options: The free licensed OpenDyslexia and the paid license Dyslexie. I wanted to see what the response to these were, so I mocked up some cards using the OpenDyslexia font, and put a picture of them on the BGG Facebook page and asked two questions:
I set out to find two things in particular. I wanted to know if just changing a font would be enough to help such people, and I wanted to know if it would make sense to have this font be the default font for our game. From this non-dyslexic reader’s standpoint, the font looks sloppy like Comic Sans. However the odd shapes and wide kerning of these fonts are designed to help dyslexic readers distinguish between letters more easily. I also wanted to know, if we did pursue this, would it make more sense to have two versions of the game with two different fonts, or could we just do one?
The response was positive. My findings are as such: OpenDyslexia does help a little bit, but Dyslexie does a better job of it (I was recommended this a few times during the discussion, and I think it looks better in general); Players would have an improved perception of a game that does this to be more accommodating; and there are other ways we could help our players get the most out of Sell Outs.
I think we’ll move forward with this approach. One version, with all of the advice taken into account. We appreciate everyone who took the time to respond to the post. The information we got was invaluable for what we’re trying to accomplish. I’ve reached out to the creator of Dyslexie to see what we can do.