When the first visually impaired person asked for a pinball game, I didn’t understand why he would want such a game. By the tenth request, I started thinking it was a good idea. After 25 people asked for it, I decided to do it.
From what the blind testers told me, a pinball machine is fun because the sounds are interesting, and, except for knowing when to push the flippers, sighted people have no advantage in playing pinball. Ball movement is random, and except for trying to tilt the machine, you have very little control. I knew that when I built the game, I would need to give audio cues so a blind player knows when to push the flippers.
I started by creating a pinball machine with about 8 bumpers, and a left and right channel for the ball to fall into, that leads to the left and right flippers. To fire the ball, you drag one finger from the top to the bottom, as if you are pulling the launch plunger. You hear clicks as you pull the plunger, and the ball is fired to the top of the machine, and bounces around for a while. You hear the clacks, clangs, dings and dongs, as the pinball hits each bumper and scoring points.
When a pinball rolls into the flipper channel, and is headed for the flippers, the game counts down for you, so you know exactly when to press the flipper button. Just prior to the flipper, the game says “three”. When the ball touches the flipper, the game says “two”, and when its at the tip of the flipper, the game says “one”. You tap the screen, and the flipper shoots the ball back up to the top again.
Just like a real pinball machine, the more you score, the more extra balls you earn. If the pinball is rolling down the middle of the machine, just between the two flippers, there’s nothing you can do. And if the ball gets stuck, just shake the phone a little, to nudge the ball back into play. If you shake the phone too much, you get a TILT, and you lose the game.
I created several pinball machines, where the overall bumper layout is the same, but the bumper sounds were different. As of this blog, the game has 13 different machine sound packs, such as animal sounds, outer space sounds, rude body sounds, scary sounds, sailboat sounds, wild west sounds, and funny voices.
You can download the game here: