Have you ever been surrounded by people engaging in an activity that you couldn't? Maybe you're hanging out with your friends at a club, and everyone's dancing, while you lean against a wall, assisting the building with its structural integrity. Or perhaps it's a foot gear fad, and while you certainly wouldn't mind sporting a new pair of Converse, your pocketbook does not agree. For me, that activity was the phone game craze.
Being a blind guy, I'm sure you'll understand it when I tell you, "Most video games just don't work for me." Of course, there were some work arounds. Playing WII with the kids for example, if I timed it just right, I could swing the controller, and knock one out of the park in baseball. Then there was boxing, the only game I'm aware of where madly flailing about would, as often as not, score the visually challenged dude a win. On a phone though, even given the amazing advances I've seen with touch screens and speech technology, games have generally been … frustrating!
Take Words with Friends—remember that classic? When I first heard about it, what I thought was, "Oh hey, that sounds cool, a sort've electronic version of scrabble. I'm a word geek! I wonder if they've coded it so that it'll work with speech?"
Uh … no! I could kind of tell where the letters might be located on the screen, but manipulating or identifying them wasn't possible. I ultimately e-mailed the developer, since I've had good luck doing that in the past with other apps, but never got a response.
After a few similar experiences, I eventually settled into the mindset of ignoring games altogether. Just like the above example with footwear, it wasn't that I was above wasting hours of my day poking at my phone's screen, it was just that I hadn't yet received an accessible invitation.
Then came Dice World! I was sitting outside, listening to a podcast about adaptive technology, and happened to hear an interview with one of the developers of this game. It was created by two dads who loved playing dice, wanted to share it with as many people as possible, and along those lines, had taken the time to make it accessible.
"Hmm," thought the blind man.
Unfortunately, I didn't know crap about dice games—my family played stuff like Monopoly, Battle Ship, and dominos when I was a kid. Farkle sounded like something you'd scream after hitting your finger with a hammer. Yatzy was vaguely familiar, but Balut made no sense either, unless perhaps you were recounting an election story about troublesome chads in Florida. And Pig? Who knew? Predictably though, even with the prodigious learning curve involved, I was soon addicted.
"Whatcha doing, Dad?" my daughter Amanda inquired one afternoon.
"Playing Farkle," I responded.
"What's Farkle?" she asked, channeling both amusement and teenage scorn.
"A game I can beat you at," I challenged.
Which, as I knew it would, captured her interest for a while.
My first permanent victory though was the wife, Lizbeth.
"I hate these fucking dice," she'd be heard to mutter while lying next to me in bed. Or, "You suck!" directed at me whenever I won a game. Still, she continued playing.
The only annoying thing about being so addicted to this game was the constant quest to acquire more Gold. In Dice World parlance, Gold stood for the bonus points you could use to extend your turn. So, if you rolled the dice and got nothing but crap? No problem. Spend 1 Gold, and you could re-roll the dice one time. Of course, you had to earn Gold to be able to spend it, and aside from playing in tournaments or flat out buying it, you could only do that by watching videos. Watch one video, and you'd get one Gold.
When I first started playing, I'd occasionally watch a video and get nothing, which led to even more horrible exclamations than the ones quoted from Lizbeth above. After a while though, the developers squashed that bug, and went so far as to add a coin drop noise after the video was done playing, as if to say, "There's your penny!"
Did you ever collect pennies in a jar as a kid? Remember that noise they'd make when you'd drop one in? The coin drop noise in Dice World is a little bit like that, except that the coin sounds bigger, like maybe a quarter. Ah, now that would be sweet, twenty-five points for watching one of those goofy videos, instead of just one.
The next time you're looking for a fun little time waster to download on your phone, give Dice World a shot. Even if you don't get to be as addicted as Lizbeth and myself, I bet you'll develop a new appreciation for every penny of Gold you're able to stockpile.