Does or should Wizards make a braille product?

  • #1
    I got to thinking about this on the drive home tonight. My eye sight isn't exactly the best. I am susposed to wear glasses but I quit wearing them in the 3rd grade, I am 27 now and am noticing that sometimes I have trouble reading small text like what is on the cards. I am not exactly worried about going blind or anything, just thought that If It actually happend them I would still like to play. The problem with braille cards would be kinda big. You would almost have to play against other blind players and if you didn't then wizards would have to print somesort of book with all cards in braille so they could be looked up. Also the time of matches would have to increase to account for the time it would take to look cards up. So do you think it is possible we could see something like this?
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  • #2
    no. the market is so tiny that it would be a waste of time and money. pure and simple.

    as for your eyesight... get glasses.
  • #3
    I am not worried about my eyesight, just saying it got me thinking about it. I fail to see how you know for a fact the the market for the blind is any smaller then the market for the people with sight. I'm almost sure that they could enjoy the same things we do, with the exception of film. There are books and magazines printed in braille on restroom sings it is there also. why not a fantasy card game?
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  • #4
    Quote from oceanic815
    I fail to see how you know for a fact the the market for the blind is any smaller then the market for the people with sight.


    I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that there are less people who are blind than there are people who can see. That would make the market for the blind smaller than the one for people with sight.


    I'm almost sure that they could enjoy the same things we do, with the exception of film. There are books and magazines printed in braille on restroom sings it is there also. why not a fantasy card game?


    I'd first like to point out that restroom signs having braille support is because it's necessary for them to be able to enjoy reasonable comfort. It's basically analogous to having elevator support for people in wheelchairs: if we didn't have it, it would be unreasonably difficult for them to visit those areas.

    As far as the actual development issues would be:
    It seems like it's not unreasonable to print art on braille cards, which seems like it would take care of the issue with sighted people: we already play cards in Russian when neither player can read the language. As long as the card is recognizable by a sighted player, and we've got judges to provide Oracle text, the sighted player would be fine. The issue would be that in order for the blind player to be in a position where he could properly understand the game, the sighted player would have to be playing with braille cards as well, otherwise it seems unlikely the blind player would be able to maintain his understanding of the game state.

    The larger issue I can see is that braille cards would require a completely different printing process than normal Magic cards. I've never seen long sentences in braille, so I'm unclear as to whether we could actually fit all the necessary information on a standard Magic card, but odds are we'd have to increase length and width. Far more important is the fact that we'd have to deal with the fact that braille, by definition, protrudes from the card. This would make standard shuffling (and sleeving) impossible, without making a border around the card at least as thick as the height of braille letters. So now you're dealing with a much, much thicker card stock, and probably different manufacturing processes to get the cards. Packs would need new packaging as well. That's a lot of extra cost for a relatively niche market.

    In addition, I'd expect Magic with blind players to be troublesome. A lot of decisions in Magic depend heavily on the game state, so you'd basically have to be constantly "reading" the board with your fingers. If you inadvertently missed a card, you could be completely misreading what the correct move is. There's also the issue of misplacing cards, since if one moves to the side or falls off the tabletop (an issue I could definitely see, given the cards' new thickness- ever tried to play with a deck sleeved in the hard plastic toploaders?), it would probably take some match-delaying time before they found it again. And don't forget that a lot of the reason Magic players can move at a reasonable pace when looking through large numbers of cards is because they can quickly identify cards by the art: resolving a search effect is much more difficult and time-consuming when you have to manually read every card's title.

    Also note that every Constructed format beyond Standard, and probably EDH as well, would basically be locked to these players, unless Wizards plans on reprinting every past set in Braille.
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  • #5
    Quote from oceanic815
    There are books and magazines printed in braille on restroom sings it is there also. why not a fantasy card game?


    Cheating. Do you know why scrabble letters are painted on the tiles and not engraved? Because players could feel the engravings and figure out what the letters were. Making Braille magic cards means either using a thicker cardboard, or they will have a problem with the bumps being able to felt through the back of the card. And don't say "well, play in sleeves" because that defeats the whole purpose.

    Also, braille signs on restrooms and things like that are required by law. They have to. As far as books go, there is a large enough market for books that it makes. There are far, far more blind people that read books than play a card game, unfortunately.


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  • #6
    Somehow I believe that there is a very very small blind community wishing to play mtg, if any at all. Also if the cards had braille it would be easy for people to cheat when shuffling decks etc, there is already enough of that.
  • #7
    Quote from oceanic815
    I fail to see how you know for a fact the the market for the blind is any smaller then the market for the people with sight.


    http://www.nfb.org/nfb/blindness_statistics.asp

    In 1995, 1.3 million people were considered blind in the US. The population of the US at that time was 262.8 million.

    So yes, there are far less blind people than people with sight. So, yes, the market for the blind is significantly smaller than the market for those that can see.

    While it can be argued that the total population of the blind is not conclusively indicative of the market of the blind who want to play magic, or that maybe the percentage of blind people has raised signigicantly since 1995, burden of proof is on you to show that that the market for blind people is comparable to the market for non-blind.

    tl;dr -- market is too small

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  • #8
    Quote from mondu_the_fat
    http://www.nfb.org/nfb/blindness_statistics.asp

    In 1995, 1.3 million people were considered blind in the US. The population of the US at that time was 262.8 million.
    The number of people who actually need to use braille is actually smaller than that, since some people who are "legally blind" can still see things through coke-bottle glasses.
  • #9
    Actually there was a completely blind guy who played competitive VS. He had a way to print braille on all of his sleeves so he knew what the cards did, and often had a friend or a judge he knew around to keep those he played honest. He was a VERY good player.
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  • #10
    Quote from oceanic815
    I got to thinking about this on the drive home tonight. My eye sight isn't exactly the best. I am susposed to wear glasses but I quit wearing them in the 3rd grade


    You drive without glasses even though you need them? Please get vision correction of some sort (glasses, contacts, lasik). You are a danger to yourself and other people on the road.
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  • #11
    Is it possible? Of course. Is it likely? Almost certainly not. I do not expect this would be a cheap production process as the cards would still need to be printed with enough information for sighted opponents to understand what the card is and what it does.

    Quote from oceanic815
    I fail to see how you know for a fact the the market for the blind is any smaller then the market for the people with sight.


    For the market for the blind to be larger than the market for sighted people, you would have to establish that blind people constitute at least 50% of Magic players.

    Given that blind people only constitute about .5%-1% of the US population, I don't think we need to provide proof that the markets are of unequal size, and that the market for sighted people is larger.
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  • #12
    Braille would be fabulous! I am a special needs teacher teacher and advocate and it is very unfair for visualy impaired people that would like to play magic. There are few entertainment outlets for the visually impaired, especially in the Information age. Pen and paper RPGs are one good outlet, but it shouldn't be the only one.

    Just because there is a small market does not mean those people should be marginalized. The people with gluten allergy are a small population and the market is flooded with gluten free products!

    Your opinion seems kind of cold and only driven by business, the worse possible reason to make any decision.
  • #13
    Blind people have been known to play some games and sports by special accommodations (such as the braille sleeves mentioned) or by help from a person with sight who acts as eyes only.

    I think Wizards could allow someone to play by something simple like the blind player wearing ear-bud headphones. Then a person who can see would handle the cards and tell the blind player hidden information by means of typing and a text-to-voice program.

    The blind player would need a good memory, and all public actions would have to be described carefully. There are high level blind chess players.

    It could easily be done by someone with a laptop, and would not slow play down too much. You might need a judge on hand throughout the match, however.
    For example:

    Opponent: "Swamp, Grave Titan, go"
    Typist types: "You draw Black Sun's Zenith."
    Blind Player (if he has forgotten): "What are my lands and hand?"
    Typist types: <Contents of hand>
    Typist speaks: <Current lands>
    Blind Player: Play BSZ for X=6.
    etc...
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  • #14
    Quote from pstmdrn
    Braille would be fabulous! I am a special needs teacher teacher and advocate and it is very unfair for visualy impaired people that would like to play magic. There are few entertainment outlets for the visually impaired, especially in the Information age. Pen and paper RPGs are one good outlet, but it shouldn't be the only one.

    Just because there is a small market does not mean those people should be marginalized. The people with gluten allergy are a small population and the market is flooded with gluten free products!

    Your opinion seems kind of cold and only driven by business, the worse possible reason to make any decision.


    While I agree that there should be some kind of support for the visually impaired, I disagree with your last statement.

    The fact is that WotC are a business. They are there to make money. For them, a cold, calculated business choice is not only fine, but its expected. If WotC started making decisions based on emotion, it wouldn't be good for the company. Sure, some may pan out, but without some kind of proper analysis, the only way to find out is to do it. Can you imagine what the shareholders would say if at next year's AGM, the CEO stood up and said "Well, we wanted to see if there was a market for braille magic cards. So rather than do a market research project, we just went ahead and printed them. Turns out there wasn't enough of a market, and between materials, specialist printing equipment and marketing, we lost a hundred million dollars. Sorry".

    Also, there are other practical issues. If a blind player uses braille cards, he can only trade for other braille cards. I know I wouldn't have any or have any need of the, as I'm a sighted player, and therefore wouldn't open braille product, ergo, I couldn't trade with a blind player.

    Then there's volume? How much would you want WotC to print. Assuming that the 1.3 of 252.8 stat is the base. So 0.4% of players are blind. Assume that WotC prints 1 million boxes of a set (I don't know the exact number, so I picked one that's easy to work with). So if they kept to 1 million, then they'd now be printing 960,000 normal boxes and 40,000 braille boxes. Where would they distribute them? Do you distribute them equally to every country or do you do it by what proportion of players they have? If you do it equally, then there are only about 570 boxes per country. If you do it by proportion, then almost three in every 4 packs would be in the US and Europe.

    This is the thing. Making these gut decisions like "lets not exclude blind people" sounds great in principal, but its a huge undertaking and would take an incredible amount of work to sort out, and in the end, it would probably end up costing WotC more to set up than they'd make off it, and while you sat that cold business choices are the worst way to decide anything, that may be true of a person, but not of a business.
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  • #15
    @asw - Yes, I understand your points. My comment was a bit biased because I despise business and hard capitalism as a whole. I truly believe, especially in WoTC's case, that when decisions are based on increasing profit, certain aspects of the game suffer.

    I think their main goal should be to put out the best card game that is readily available and easily accessible to all. They can focus making their big money off of admissions to high profile tourneys and other related products like mats and sleeves. In many countries (and probably portions of the US) the cost of playing magic can move it into an elitist hobby accessible to only the upper middle class and above. I think there are plenty of low income people that have a lot to offer the magic community, but feel hedged out by not being able to afford many cards.

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  • #16
    I think blind players could probably play fairly well just by putting some braille with the name of each card on their sleeves. If the braille were near the center of card, it would be hard to detect as far as marked cards go.
    It would take an incredible amount of memory and and a steep learning curve, possibly a 3rd party to keep things honest, but it is doable.

    I don't thinking printing braille cards would be a profitable decision for wizards, at the end of the day they are a company. That doesn't mean that certain accommodations and rules allowances couldn't be made though.
  • #17
    The problem is that any way to put braille on a card would make the card, by necessity, marked. If you can feel a card without looking at its face and tell what the card is, that's the definition of a marked card. Since braille is, by definition, so that people who can't see can tell what they're looking at, the cards would be marked. I don't think there's a way around this.
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  • #18
    Quote from Ertai87
    The problem is that any way to put braille on a card would make the card, by necessity, marked. If you can feel a card without looking at its face and tell what the card is, that's the definition of a marked card. Since braille is, by definition, so that people who can't see can tell what they're looking at, the cards would be marked. I don't think there's a way around this.


    Even if there were, Braille isn't particularly compact and can't be rendered legibly at the font sizes Magic uses, anyway. The cards would have to be indexed so the user can use a reference tome for Oracle text, and a blind player flipping to a particular location in a reference book to check the wording of a card would be a dead giveaway to the rough location of the card in the set - so that player couldn't double check the wording on a card in their hand without giving away some information about the contents of their hand.
  • #19
    If wizards is going to make a mtg product for the blind, its going to be digital.

    1) There would be no need for a separate product. Just put up software that would read aloud the card names/text rather than new physical cards. No additional money spent for Wizards aside from the software development. With costs severely down, the issues of the market being to small is less of a problem.
    2) There would be no issues regarding marked cards
    3) There would be no issues regarding how a blind player would trade with a non-blind player, as the product is the same.
    4) No issues on how to fit large amounts of text on a card
    5) No issues about new blind players being out of access to older expansions.

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  • #20
    Quote from pandafarmer
    Actually there was a completely blind guy who played competitive VS. He had a way to print braille on all of his sleeves so he knew what the cards did, and often had a friend or a judge he knew around to keep those he played honest. He was a VERY good player.


    I played and beat him one year at GenCon. Great player, great guy, totally legitimate good player. After I beat him, I accidentally stepped on his dog's tail while getting up Frown


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  • #21
    Quote from mondu_the_fat
    If wizards is going to make a mtg product for the blind, its going to be digital.

    1) There would be no need for a separate product. Just put up software that would read aloud the card names/text rather than new physical cards. No additional money spent for Wizards aside from the software development. With costs severely down, the issues of the market being to small is less of a problem.
    2) There would be no issues regarding marked cards
    3) There would be no issues regarding how a blind player would trade with a non-blind player, as the product is the same.
    4) No issues on how to fit large amounts of text on a card
    5) No issues about new blind players being out of access to older expansions.
    That could work; add text-to-speech to MTGO. (Modifying the interface might be difficult, though)
  • #22
    Well, i'm not really worried, if i even go blind for some reason i'll get back into music which is what i loved when i was a kid, but i got side tracked with video games and card games. I don't think blind people would be interested in playing magic to be honest.

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  • #23
    Quote from pandafarmer
    Actually there was a completely blind guy who played competitive VS. He had a way to print braille on all of his sleeves so he knew what the cards did, and often had a friend or a judge he knew around to keep those he played honest. He was a VERY good player.


    There was a blind MtG player in Finnish Nationals last year (or year before it). He had the card names on the sleeves in braille and the opponents just had to say everything out loud and he kept the board in his mind.
  • #24
    Quote from lionden_56
    There are far, far more blind people that read books than play a card game, unfortunately.


    In my opinion this is fortunate.

    On the topic of blind people. It is unfair for them to be excluded from certain things. They face adversities that people who are not in their position don't have to overcome. Considerations need to be made in order to make sure that they are able to use the bathroom, get from place A to place B, get a job in the society which they are a part of, etc... Having said all of this, I don't agree that certain luxury accommodations have to be made. If you think about it, Hasbro is a corporation owned by people. Each shareholder is in part an owner of the corporation. As such, if you ask Hasbro to accommodate blind people by introducing cards which have Braille on them, you are essentially asking a large number of people to compromise their well being for the well being of another group of people. Since we can safely make the assumption that Braille cards will not be profitable (and even if you choose to contest this, you are then obligated to prove otherwise), then by choosing the go ahead and print Braille cards, the owners of Hasbro are incurring a financial cost to themselves in order to benefit someone else. This is unfair especially given that they already pay taxes which are supposed to be used to benefit society as a whole and blind people are part of this society. Indeed, accommodations which are currently made need to be funded and ARE funded from taxes and this is entirely reasonable. Asking someone to incur a loss so that the luxury of a trading card game is available for blind people is unreasonable however. In this case, blind people are disadvantaged and this is unfortunate, but it is not the fault of a Hasbro shareholder that you are blind, and thus hardly unfair that they are not required to provide you with this service.
  • #25
    Quote from Ninave
    There was a blind MtG player in Finnish Nationals last year (or year before it). He had the card names on the sleeves in braille and the opponents just had to say everything out loud and he kept the board in his mind.
    This really is the perfect middle ground solution.

    Quote from Ertai87
    The problem is that any way to put braille on a card would make the card, by necessity, marked. If you can feel a card without looking at its face and tell what the card is, that's the definition of a marked card. Since braille is, by definition, so that people who can't see can tell what they're looking at, the cards would be marked. I don't think there's a way around this.

    If the braille were just the name of the name of card or and abbreviation, in the center of the card they would not be easily identifiable in a library. The only way it would be an issue is when a player is physically manipulating their library at a time they are not supposed to, something that is already suspicious.
    The only thing needed on wizards part would be slight rules alterations. A slight modification to what constitutes a marked card, and that puts the final determination up to judges discretion. Requiring players to verbalize their, and to verbalize gamestate when asked, possibly only when a legally handicapped person is involved in the match. It may also be necessary to add a slight time extension to blind matches since the nature of verbalizing the entire game will make it take longer, although this may be considered an unfair advantage. The allowance of a helper, judge or otherwise to assist the blind player in physically manipulation of the cards, and reading cards and the gamestate to the blind player.
    Other than the that, the game play out exactly the same and would require a huge amount of skill and memorization on the part of the blind player.

    I think in general the allowance of an assistant would go a long way to helping players with all variety of handicaps. Someone with limited mobility could have an assistant who holds and moves the cards for them, but the player is making all the choices and decisions.
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