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Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

Risk: Playing the Game with a Twist

November 1, 2018 | Leave a Comment

by Joseph Lee

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Risk game board showing armies in Africa and the card deck in the foreground
As a visually impaired person, I know the lengths we must go in order to enjoy the same recreational activities as our sighted friends.  Often, it is painstakingly time consuming and requires extra financial investment.

But, once work-arounds are met and participation is achieved, it is always worth it.  This is true whether it is tandem bicycling or something much simpler like playing a board game with a couple of close friends.

My friends and I took on the challenge of adapting and playing a board game called Risk.  We aimed to accomplish this by combining our existing knowledge of the game and the accessible resources available to us as blind board gamers.

Laying the Land

The Risk game board resembles an old world Atlas in its simplest form.  It shows countries on a map where players place armies and attempt to take over the world.  Players move and attack one another by rolling the dice.  What we needed to address were the challenges of placing armies, moving pieces around on a visual board, and rolling dice to actually play the game.

First, we use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that contains three columns for each continent and its countries, bordering countries and number of armies.  The center column contains the number of armies each players has in that continent.  The adjacent columns positioned to the left and to the right are Continents and Borders.  Each player’s name was indicated by a single letter along with how many armies that player controlled in that country.  Other notations were created to play the finer points of the game.

Africa 3 Africa Troops Africa Borders
Central Africa j1 Central Africa-North Africa, Eastern Africa, South Africa
East Africa j1 *East Africa -Northern Africa, Egypt, Middle East, Central Africa, South Africa, Madagascar
Egypt j1 *Egypt -Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Middle East (Asia), Eastern Africa
Madagascar j1 Madagascar -Eastern Africa, South Africa
North Africa j7 *North Africa -Brazil (SA) Western Europe and Southern Europe, Egypt, Central Africa, Eastern Africa
South Africa f1 South Africa -Central Africa, Eastern Africa, Madagascar


Gathering the Tools

Secondly, and most importantly, we employed the use of a whole lot of tools on the assistive technology side to make it possible for us to communicate our moves, roll the dice and play the game.

We used:

  • screen readers and Excel,
  • Roll The Bones App for rolling dice, and
  • Skype to communicate army movements, attacks, and dice results.


Reaping the Rewards

All in all, it took some concerted effort, several accessible devices, patience and creativity to pull it all off.  The first game was not perfect.  We discovered little changes here and there we could make to simplify the game.  As we implemented these changes, the game itself became more enjoyable to play.

We found the experience so positive that it led to us adapting other games, too.  It is amazing to see what a little extra effort and time can do when you are trying to have fun with your friends.

If you would like to see our Microsoft Excel Risk game board, please email Kathy Austin for a copy.

Joe is a volunteer technology tutor at Second Sense.  Joe has been volunteering at Second Sense since March of 2017.  He is finishing his degree to become a vision rehabilitation therapist with a concentration in assistive technology.

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