The Issue of Colour Blindness in Board Games
We look at the accessibility of a lot of board games here on Meeple Like us, and one of the things we look at is colour blindness. Each board game that we review gets an alphabetic grade for its suitability for people with colour blindness in four key categories – protanopia, deuteranopia, tritanopia and monochromacy. If you’re looking for recommendations for board games you can play if you are colour blind, you’ve come to the right place! If not, you should still hang around because we talk a lot about all kinds of accessibility and you might find some of our posts interesting. Colour blindness is only one of the issues we discuss.
Colour blindness is a persistent, ongoing problem with board games although to be fair it is only occasionally that colour blind players are fully prohibited from engaging in a board game experience. Primarily the issues arise in things like token discrimination, especially where sub-optimal and inaccessible palettes are used to indicate player ownership and control of elements of board game state. Colour blindness then need not stop anyone from actually enjoying the hobby of board gaming but it does mean that some careful consumer research is necessary to make sure games will be suitable. That’s where we come in – we look at board games and explain the impact that colour blindness will have on playing them.
Some board games ask a lot of players with colour blindness, for example requiring colour-based pattern identification and manipulation. These often present a substantial barrier to play for people with colour blindness. Even in these cases though the problems are usually, but not always, situational. Colour blindness is an issue that can be resolved in many cases by board alterations—common suggestions include painting or marking board game components so as to ease identification for players with affected issues of protanopia, deuteranopia and tritanopia. However, it is not the view of this site that players should be expected to deface their games in order to get a fully playable experience. Whether individual players with colour blindness choose to do so is for them to decide, but it’s not an approach we advocate. Board games should be accessible to people with colour blindness out of the box.
Other substantial problems exist when it comes to relating components to other parts of the board game state, such as when colours are used as the sole indicator of category on cards and in manuals. In such cases, even modifying the game is not an appropriate solution to problems encountered since the adaptions needed would be unsightly, extensive and incompatible with other game elements.
In many cases, specific problems with colours manifest only for certain categories of colour blindness. Even then that is sometimes only at the highest supported player counts. In other cases, the number of board game components used is small enough that other components, sometimes from other board games, can be substituted to track whatever game state the component itself was used for.
Board Games – Colour Blindness Recommendations
The following games are recommended at a B or higher grade for people with colour blindness. Please see the linked teardown for full details as individual grades are not necessarily fully representative of the complexities associated with monochromacy, protanopia, deuteranopia and tritanopia. For more specific and complex circumstances, please check out our recommender.