Yesterday I wrote a couple of personas to help ensure that my designs will be helpful to the target user group. These are primarily based upon members of the visually impaired gaming group I visited last semester, but also incorporate aspects of other young to middle aged people I have met with visual impairments and / or an interest in tabletop gaming.
While sight loss is often associated with the elderly, this is not the group that I am designing for. The outcome of this project is intended initially to be used by eighteen to forty year olds as it is within this age range that both hobbyist gamers and people with a high level of technical literacy tend to fall, irrespective of visual acuity. However, both research and experience suggest that gaming (both tabletop and board games) is not a hobby that is set aside as a player ages. I have many friends who play tabletop games with their partners, and encourage their children to play ever more complex games as they grow. The first social gaming group I was part of was run by a man in his fifties and included his twenty-something year old daughter and her fiancé, whom she met through the group. I myself learned to play Magic: The Gathering when I was eighteen and have played regularly for ten years – not competitively, just for fun. While my system will not be designed with current elderly people in mind, it should ensure that current sighted players, who have grown up with ubiquitous digital technology, are able to continue playing even if they experience age-related sight loss, as well as fulfilling the primary goal of allowing visually impaired players to enjoy the same wide variety of games their friends and family members play without requiring either a sighted companion to assist them, or modifications made to rules or aspects of play.