Attention Game Designers: 10%-20% of Your Customer-Base is Color Blind!

I am color-blind.   In my case, I have difficulty distinguishing between shades of red and green.   Urban legends aside, I have no difficulty seeing green or red and a stop sign looks just as red as it does to everyone else. I do not see in black and white either. Color blindness (for most anyway) causes the most annoyance when shades of red and green appear next to or intertwined with each other.  The colors shift and blend into each other, so they appear the same. If you want to test yourself, here is a page of color-blindness test images. If you can see numbers in the dots, you are not color blind. Of the six images on the front page, I can only see numbers in one of them.

I am not looking for sympathy, since it rarely has any impact on my life. However there is one area that my color-blindness presents real challenges.

Games.

Many board/card games use colors for a variety of mechanics. “Race for the Galaxy” is a good example. Colors are a critical part of the game and I have difficulty differentiating them. That particular game, while fun, is simply too much work for me to play.

That is the basis of this rant. Most gamers are male and between 10-20% (the numbers vary wildly)of the male population is color-blind to some extent.  Game designers need to recognize this fact and make a few simple changes to their designs. I am not asking for major changes, just some simple things like:

1. Every game mechanic needs a color and an icon. Put squares on all the red cards and circle on the green ones. Give me a work-around for my deficiencies.

2. Stop using pastels! I can see solid red and solid green. Light red next to light green is a nightmare. Even better, do some research and avoid some common problem colors like red/green or blue/yellow.

3. Playtest with some of Trask’s fellow genetic mutants. Find some diagnosed color-impaired males and ask for some color-scheme inputs.

This is my plea to game designers the world over; please keep a place in your heart for those with a damaged X chromosome. We want to play to!

Trask, The Last Tyromancer

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trask

Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.

One thought on “Attention Game Designers: 10%-20% of Your Customer-Base is Color Blind!

  • October 5, 2009 at 5:46 pm
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    Actually, the guys at Wandering Men Studios DO realize this! That’s one of the reasons we decided to tweak the design of our Untold cards (http://www.untoldthegame.com) to reflect it, in fact:

    1. our card icons are all black and white
    2. our cards are the three primary colors: red, yellow, blue
    3. we eliminated one of our card types: a green one, to help eliminate confusion with the red cards.

    🙂

    See! The guys at Wandering Men Studios ROCK!

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