Thinking about Color Blind for FredEx and Beyond

While I was at Boston FIG, I had one guy come check out the games and he asked me about color blind support.  It had never occurred to me to factor this in when making the game.  Not knowing where to start, I reached out to the Boston Indies and not to my surprise I got some incredible feedback.

FredEx relies on the use of 7 colors to indicate which boxes belong in which truck.  This works great for normal vision, but not so much with color blindness.  So if you find yourself in a similar situations here are some great suggestions I got which I hope to carry on beyond just FredEx.

1. Use Grayscale – The best way to know how your game looks to someone with color blindness, even if it’s not total color blindness is to view your game in grayscale.  this helps you get a sense of what colors may appear the same.  Relying on pure grayscale for differentiation is not a good idea, but its a valuable starting point to know how your game is going to look to anyone who has trouble seeing some / all color.

2. Use Textures + Colors.  With FredEx objects are moving and must be moved quickly combined with the fact that the objects are not abstract objects, but instead have to represent a real object (cardboard box).  It was suggested to do a border around the box (which fortunately I already had) which I believe will be my approach.  it may be permanent if i can make it blend smoothly otherwise i’ll make this visual indication an option.  This is a rough adaptation, but you get the idea.


3. Color blind Play Testers – have color blind playtesters if at all possible to help get an honest real impression of how game mechanics and color / pattern usage is effective.

4. There’s an App for that – Find a good Color blind App.  I found this one ColorDeBlind for iOS which worked very well.  I tried the lite version then bought the full version for $.99.  There are no shortage of options.This is just the one i found first and most effective for what I wanted to see.

5. The Web – There are a lot of online resources as well for web design for color blind folks as well.  I didn’t find any silver bullet tools that gave me what I was looking for specifically, but certainly there is a wealth of knowledge on the subject out there easy to find.

I will be also keeping color in mind with Finger King.  I know that I was going to be relying on color switches needed to beat the game, and now realizing that color blind players could be in real trouble if they got deep in the game and unable to distinguish one trigger button from another could be a problem.

Thanks again to Daniel, Seth, Eitan, Kwasi, Michael, and others from the Boston Indies who gave great insight and input.  Another great example of our awesome indie community.

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About Caleb

Game Producer at Part12 Studios here in greater Boston area. Caleb loves game design and the execution of game development. He is also a semi-serious old school skater and a married father of two wonderful boys.