An inclusively designed board game created for Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.
Wild Tiles is a simplistic accessible puzzle based board game. Players take turns aligning their pieces strategically onto the board and the first to place all pieces wins!
Over 200,000 children in Canada are living with some form of disability that affects their level of freedom, independence or quality of life. Many these children struggle to make close friendships and only 1% spend at least one hour daily with friends outside of school. The result of various disabilities causes many gamers to adapt uncomfortably or forgo playing entirely.
This means that games which neglect accessible design hinder the ability for these players to participate.
Game accessibility is vital; everyone deserves to play.
How might we design an accessibly friendly and inclusive game for a child who lives with multiple disabilities?
We began by analyzing articles, journals and development logs all pertaining to the design of accessibly friendly games. This research helped us create design pillars that would serve as the foundation to our end-product.
Children with a deficit for motor movement may struggle to interact with the objects. Pieces on the board need to be large enough to grip and light enough to move.
The game needs to gently test the player's cognitive abilities with respect to memory, attention, problem solving, and strategy.
We also began brainstorming on a whiteboard to visualize our rough ideas and gain a better understanding of the user and the design challenge.
We then combined our findings from the analyzed research and directed our attention towards a user persona. This became our guide for what specific challenges we want to focus on and how we'd create solutions for them.
Players who suffer from colour blindness will have difficulty understanding the board visually. The game should not be text heavy or filled with disruptive colours.
Being mindful of communicative challenges such as soft speech, slow speech and use of communication devices are necessary when designing the game. We want players to interact with one another while feeling comfortable,
Identifying User Needs
We explored several variations of games that prioritized simplicity and ease of use. After multiple iterations, we assembled a rough rule-set that closely followed our design pillars and best represented the battles that Sam faces.
Shy in Nature
Condition(s): Brain Injury
Sam has limited motor function in her hands which hinders her from grabbing/ squeezing objects
She also has monochromatic vision (total colour blindness)
She is unable to make quick decisions
Always strives to win
With a rough idea of our game in mind, we created a quick paper prototype for the purpose of playtesting. This initial playtest allowed us to generate feedback for our game. Playing it rather than talking about it revealed areas for iteration and opportunities for new ideas worth exploring that weren't clear when simply discussing it.
Playtesting Rules | Phase 1
Designing the Pieces
We've kept our target user as the center piece to our design thus far and we needed our game piece to reflect that.
We began exploring methods for how we could interact with the board and it's pieces in a comfortable way. We also wanted the pieces to be informative, meaning they would reinforce the rules and overall design of the game.
I sketched out some mock-ups for the pieces while remaining mindful of the constraints:
Squeezing, pinching and grabbing motions cannot be used.
Keep it simple, complexities may confuse the user.
Final Physical Prototype
Physical Prototype Ideation
Objects can slid, rolled and knocked over gently.
Our board requires a lot of pieces so they need to be easy to construct.
After some feedback from professors, we decided that one of the initial designs of the product proved to be the best option. This was due to the simplicity of the design. Players may actually have an easier time interacting with this design compared to the more complex iterations. It was also much easier to construct!
We decided on more pastel hues to reflect the playful nature of our design, whilst using them sparingly as spot colors and highlights to maintain that clean, contemporary minimalist a e s t h e t i c .
Wild Tiles was selected by judges from the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital!
What began as a week long design journey quickly turned into a passion project. I had always been curious about the techniques regarding product design. Pairing that interest with the chance to tackle an issue that affects so many people was an opportunity that I'm grateful to be a part of. I was able to learn so much about the steps needed to make not only a successful game but a successful product. The research and respect we had for the user informed our throughout the process.
Despite it being one small board game, being given the opportunity to be a part of the solution was a very rewarding experience.