Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Stem Stumper: Puzzle Gaming for Visually Impaired on the iPhone

You can't go too far in the App Store without coming across yet another cute puzzle game. They're everywhere, but even in that crowded field, Stem Stumper provides an experience that's unique. While the gameplay itself may not be original, the game is completely accessible to the visually impaired.

The premise is simple: you guide an anthropomorphic plant creature around a series of obstacles—ranging from angry tree stumps to clouds of weed killer—in search of bags of fertilizer. You drag your finger along to create a path and various clues will alert you when you stumble across something important. If you're playing in the standard mode you'll be able to see as well as hear when you get close to something. And when you play in sonar mode, the visuals melt away completely, forcing you to focus on the sound.

Every item in the game, both obstacles and tools, has a specific sound. You'll hear music when you're near, and when you land on the right square that cues the sound. And since there are only a handful of sounds—and each one is distinct—it's easy to remember what's what.

The game also supports VoiceOver, making it possible to play without any visual hints at all. VoiceOver reads out the instructions for each stage, and the sound effects and musical cues guide you towards your goal.

Even for fully sighted players, Stem Stumper provides an interesting experience. With the visuals turned on it's a by-the-books iOS puzzler that's cute and fun, but not particularly memorable. When you play on the sonar mode, throw on some headphones, and close your eyes... it's completely different—not to mention much more challenging. This game is well worth a play for puzzle fans.

Click this link to purchase and download Stem Stumper for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store.

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