Blog > Editorials > What It’s like Gaming While Blind

What It’s like Gaming While Blind

Blind Gaming

12 years ago, I started an Imperial Guard collection, *cool story bro,* except I was, and am, legally blind.

How bad is your vision really?

Well, I can’t tell what a model is by looking at it.  I have to feel it up…

If you ask me which one of my guardsman has a flamer, the answer is for me to start poking each one of them until I find the flamer.

I also have a guide dog.

How do you keep track of a 2,000 point 40k game?

I have learned to keep a mental map.  Over time I’ve developed the ability to move all the different parts simultaneously, and essentially play out the match in my head before it happens based off what I think my opponent should and might do.

Playing me is a bit like playing someone who has seen 2 turns into the future.  My current limit is about 2 turns in the future.

For most of you, this sounds like a monumentally difficult thing to accomplish.  For me, someone who is a visual learner and legally blind, it is relatively routine because I navigate my house like this.

It’s a lot like walking through a dream, you can see things in your mind, and you decide whether or not that would be a good decision, and run through every squad on the table like that.

Challenges Gaming

Biggest issue for me is figuring out where things start off on the battlefield and figuring out how to hide out of line of sight.

In the coming weeks, I’ll start posting battle reports, and you’ll get a chance to see how I operate.

I realize that I am writing about my reality, which is a bit like you trying to describe color to a completely blind person.  Please, feel free to ask questions about my vision and related aspects.  This is part of my broader goal of enlightened the sighted to the abilities and limitations of the blind community.

Something to think about, I wrote this article, went through it, and made sure it was readable and spellchecked.  In interviews, I’ve been asked if I can use a computer… I have 10-years of e-commerce experience right on my resume, like themagnetbaron.com for instance.  I take all the pictures, made the website, ship all the orders, entirely myself.

If you have a burning question, ask me, I don’t bite, hard.

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Thor
Admin
3 years ago

I think my big question, though I could ask many, is are you playing against people you know, or are you doing pickup games, or both I suppose? I imagine there has to be, ideally, a level of trust between you and your opponent. I’m sure you’re not hovering over his/her dice rolls, and in turn accepting the outcomes they give you? Plus, if you’re getting a lay of the land at the start of the game, your opponent must help you a bit there as well?
So, I figured it might make your average pickup game a bit tricky.

Not letting a disability – or whatever is considered PC these days, stop you from doing something you enjoy is awesome to see. My wife is a big fan of Grace Potter, who is a musician. Grace is also legally blind, and having seen her in person perform, you would never know it at all. That woman owns the stage, her instruments, and her voice.

Thor
Admin
3 years ago
Reply to  Blind Penguin

People get confused when handicapped/disabled/impaired people don’t act to some stereotype they have.

Rory
3 years ago

Wow. This will be an interesting set of articles for sure. Looking forward to hearing about your armies choices and how you make that mental map.

Rory
3 years ago
Reply to  Blind Penguin

So you have some sight? Obviously not a lot but wow, fair play to you.

Jesse Sinclair
Jesse Sinclair
3 years ago
Reply to  Rory

Legally blind means 20/200 vision (or worse), and has a huge amount of causes. Very few people are blind in the stereotypical sense where they have literally zero vision.

Some blind people have no issues with the actual light and colour sensing rods and cones in their eyes, but their eyes can’t focus the light entering. So you can still “see” but it’s just a blurry mish-mash of colours, with no sensible shapes. So you can tell if you are in light or dark, or possibly even outside (“hey, there sure is a lot of blue up in the mostly top-area, that’s probably the sky”).

Some people are blind because their nerves and optic cells are deteriorating (for a wide number of reasons) and their visual field gets limited, essentially the area you see starts shrinking and losing quality.

Some people get cataracts (mostly associated with age, but can also be caused by genetic defects, diseases, and injury) which is a greying and increase in opaqueness to the lens of the eye. Your rods and cones and nerves might be fine, but not enough light is reaching them to resolve an image well.

Some people have a mixture of these issues, and others that I haven’t brought up here, resulting in a wide spectrum of “I can see some light and or colours but not enough to actually be useful.” I have a friend, for example, who can pick a banana off the counter easily, or an apple, or a can of pop, because the colour is so different that it stands out. But she can’t read a book (the text, no matter how large, is just a blurry smear), or drive, or anything like that.

My Tyranids are bright green on a mostly brown and grey table. She could point out where the Monstrous Creatures are but she couldn’t tell you which ones are which, and she might get a clump of Termagants that are tightly bunched up mistaken for an MC.

However she NEVER loses her phone, because she is so used to mentally mapping everything she can always backtrack to where she put it down, even if she closes her eyes because her awareness of how she moves in a space is so much more advanced than mine. I fucking run into chairs I can SEE.

Jesse Sinclair
Jesse Sinclair
3 years ago
Reply to  Blind Penguin

That must be a very disorienting combination of effects, and I’m very impressed by your ability to play at all, let alone play well. I’m really looking forward to your battle-reports!

Do you use a screen-reader for reading the rules? I can’t imagine they would do a great job of handling the more visual-graphic information sections like model profiles.

Rory
3 years ago
Reply to  Jesse Sinclair

Thanks for sharing that. You are bringing a great understanding to our hobby.

Jesse Sinclair
Jesse Sinclair
3 years ago
Reply to  Rory

Just glad I could help. Hollywood/television does a very bad job of showing how blindness

works in the real world. I’ve seen people accuse my friend of “lying” about her blindness simply because she can find a chair to sit in without help and doesn’t walk into walls.

Sim
Sim
3 years ago

I’m a partially-sighted wargamer. I see really well about 10-15cm from my face (so painting is no problem.
I need to play short games, as my ability to see declines fairly quickly.
I rely heavily on my opponent helping me play, especially on their side of the table. “Can you check that I’ve moved them so the heavy is at the back?” “How many of the dice hit?”
I constantly knock over terrain, and models from both armies. 😖
But I’ve found that 90% of my opponents, whether they know me or not, are pretty chill about it. – but I only play casually… wouldn’t want to test the patience of the tournament crowd.

I am most curious about your dice.
Mine are high-contrast, but still a pain in the arse… do you use adaptive dice, an App, or other people’s eyes to work out what you are rolling?

corrm
3 years ago

Great article, looking forward to the rest of the series.

Rational Nutcase
Rational Nutcase
3 years ago

I’ve actually never seen anyone visually impaired playing a wargame before and, honestly, I’ve never really considered it.
I don’t tend to comment on blogs etc. but I wanted you to know that I’m really looking forward to reading your future articles- things like how the rest of the community have treated you, how you anticipate your opponent’s moves etc.
Hopefully I can learn to improve my game as well!
Thanks for starting this blog, can’t wait for your next update:)

NafNaf
3 years ago

I think it is great you have not let your disability stop you from enjoying the hobby and going out to tournaments etc . Thanks for sharing, and I really look forward to reading your future posts about your gaming and hobby thoughts/experiences :)

Westrider
3 years ago

Always cool to hear about a different perspective. There was a blind guy on the Tyranid Hive at one point, but I never saw anything from him about his experience actually playing the Game.

Visual impairment, in particular, is a perspective I’m interested to read about, since I may be in the same boat some day. My eyesight has slipped beyond the point where it can be fully corrected, and is still gradually worsening. It’s nice to know that won’t keep me from losing my main hobby, tho I would probably want to change up my painting style from my current preference for drab, subdued colours.

Westrider
3 years ago
Reply to  Blind Penguin

Thanks! It’s really more of a long-term (i.e. on a scale of years to decades) concern, but it is something that’s been worrying me since I hit the point where my vision was no longer fully correctable.

pokemastercube .
pokemastercube .
3 years ago

good on you man, be very intrested to read ur stuff. imyself have mobility imparirment (useing wheelchair to get around and crutches but cant go really anywhere on them) which can made working around a table hard but what you work past is something you should be respected for working though

stats
3 years ago

This could be a very nice set of posts about gaming, and I am not a player! I’m impressed about the mental maps you create and your “Tzeentchian” ability to know the future, you ought be a great chess player if you can manage a WH40K game in this way.

Ucheny .
Ucheny .
3 years ago

Yeah! Lots of questions!
So before game you need to check all the table for a basic map (so to say) in your head?
What type of play do you prefer? Kill team/500/750/1000/1250/1500/1750/Apocalypse?
When you play this game in your head does it becomes more like a computer game or you do imagine it as a narrative story?
Would it be easier for you to play with a tokens instead of miniatures?
Do you play with a painted miniatures? (It’s just… paintjob is a hell of a problem in my community, I would gladly unsee some of the armies:) )
Plastic Resin or Metal (team metal go!) miniature? Aaaand what if your favorite model in game?

Thanx for your time! Really intrested in these articles, patiently waiting for next one.

Kenneth Raymond
Kenneth Raymond
3 years ago

Very interesting article and it shows just how diverse our hobby can be.

I once played a game with a colourblind person (a pick up game) and due to the heavy amount of green on the table we were given, his blue ultramarines and the red of my blood angels, the poor guy had a hard time seeing units on the table. Seeing his predicament I helped him out and we had a fun, close game [Despite it being during the time of the deep striking land raider BA codex and me dropping a redeemer into his deployment zone with a ten man assault squad, a sanguinary priest and mephison hidden within. ]

Mauler
Mauler
3 years ago

Fascinating stuff. I’ve often wondered how severely visually impaired people manage to get certain tasks done, I’m beyond impressed that wargaming is still “on the table” so to speak :D

Much respect, BP!

Wootster
Wootster
3 years ago

Always wondered how visually impaired people play games like this, I assume you have people who paint/pay to paint your models? Out of interest what schemes do you go for?

There is a deaf guy at my FLGS…and the sad part is many don’t like playing him. He likes to use his disability as a way of circumventing rules, he can lip read and has a cochlear implant, and 90% of the time he communicates just fine. When rules disputes come up suddenly his ability to understand you goes away and you end up looking like a prick because you’re arguing with a deaf guy over exactly how certain rules are worded.

sean nelson
sean nelson
3 years ago

As I read this article, I was excited since I recently played a guy that was legally blind in Shadow War. Then I realized it was in fact you haha!
Great article and an awesome read after I was able to witness it in action on the table.

At the start of our game I was a bit worried about how it would go down, but I was nothing but impressed with how well you managed the game. Also your mastery of the rules was impressive as well. Your memory must be fantastic. The only things I really did to help out was to help measure and move your models in the dense spiky city terrain.

It was specifically interesting with the idea of other person not having all the info at the beginning. I had set up a sniper to shoot through a doorway, and I remember you being suprised there was a doorway in that wall. All I can think of was that I never even thought of that.

Also I can easily say you were more aware of the board than I was the whole time. I had to look and confirm things where it seemed like you already had them mapped out perfectly.

Last note: it was a fun game, great opponent :)

P.S. I lost, hard.