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Saturday, June 22, 2013

camp adventure: tactile carnival

Day 6/Part 2: The Tactile Carnival

Wednesday June 12th, 2013

Hands down, up and all around, the Tactile Carnival was the
absolute best activity at camp this year. I asked many campers
about their favorite part of camp. Every single one said, "The
Tactile Carnival."

The Tactile Carnival is Scott Stoffel's brainchild and obsession.
He is an engineer, inventor, little boy at heart and a very kind
man. Add Amazon to the mix, and you have the recipe for something
great.

Scott's purpose was to create games that are accessible for all
people (put emphasis on the word "all.") People who are Deaf with
low vision, completely DeafBlind, blind or even sighted can play
all game. For target games, that means those with usable vision
must wear blindfolds. The games are accessible to people of all
ages and those in wheelchairs or with other physical
disabilities. He will also create theme related games when the
carnival is part of a larger event. With themed games, you get
themed prizes. Scott pays out-of-pocket for all game parts and
prizes. He puts major time and money into the Tactile Carnival.

The rest of this blog is a combination of Scott's own
descriptions and my goofy comments.

The Tactile Carnival Games at DB Camp of MD

(Note: Each DB camper will
get 12 free game tickets. Ssp's can receive three tickets on
request. Points translate to prize tokens when a ticket is used.
Tokens can be exchanged for prizes at the prize booth at any time
during the carnival.)
 
1. Meteor Shower - A modified skeeball-type game with fuzzy
tennis balls that stick to velcro targets on the backstop. The
SSP holds a magnetic board with tactile targets that mirror the
backstop and places markers on this board to show blind/low
vision players exactly where their balls go. (This game drives
service dogs nuts.

*** I am a skeeball queen, so I was most excited about this
game. They showed me the wooden rails, ramp and magnetic board.
My SSP's told me the game is really detailed and impressive
looking. Unfortunately, there were some technical problems. I was
struggling big time and couldn't figure out why. I assumed it
was my own body that made the game too hard. In addition, my
SSP's did not use the board to show me where my balls landed.

When reviewing photos later, Scott discovered that the game was
set up wrong. The targets were too high, which required muscle
and hard throws to get a hit. That's not how the game is intended
to be. Next month, Scott will set up the game right and give me
another try.

2. Astro Chimps - (Sighted players must wear a blindfold.) Use a
tactile targeting guide at your tabletop shuffleboard alley to
shoot roller pucks and try to knock down the chimps in space
suits and the Hubble Space Telescope at the other end. Keep your
pucks (and mind!) out of the gutters.
 


*** Naturally, the chimps and Hubble were all tactile, and we
got to feel them before playing. Those monkeys in space suits
were adorable. I enjoy the mini-shuffle board style game. Adding
toys at the end made it even better. However, the person running
the booth did not use the target board. It's a shame because
those boards are the key to making these games tactile.

3. Space Race - (Up to four people can play this at once.) Place
your bets! Put your ticket on the wacky, wobbling space shuttle
racer you think will reach the Moon first. Win tokens for picking
the Winner, Place or Show.
 
*** This game was cool. I didn't understand how it worked until
later, but it was still fun. Players role a die to indicate which
piece moves forward. Campers kept rolling a 3, which was me. I
won 12 tokens at this game.

4. Star Wars Death Star Attack - It's your squadron of five
X-Wing fighters and the Millennium Falcon against a swarm of
Imperial TIE fighters and the awesome Death Star. Score points by
picking off the TIE fighters and then take out the Death Star
before its turbo laser cannon wipes out your fleet. The game
board and miniature ships are tactile.
 
*** This was the first game I played, and represented Scott at
his best. The game board is incredible with the ships and three
spinners. First, you spin to try to knock out a tie fighter. Then
you use a different spinner to hopefully not sill off your own
pieces. I was sad when I lost the Millennium Falcon. Han Solo is
hot! When you are ready, you can spin for a shot at the Death
Star. I got it! I won five tokens all together.

5. Star Trek Explorer - Send your three Federation starships (the
Enterprise, Reliant and Prometheus) out to explore unknown
sectors of space and discover strange new worlds. Score points
for finding new planets and earn a bonus if you find all the
letters to spell "Trek" but beware of hostile alien ships lurking
in the deeps of space. The game board and pieces are tactile.
 


*** This was another clever and exciting game. It plays kind of
like Battleship. You put your ships on the magnetic game grid.
Then you turned over a card representing that space on the board.
This tells you if you found a letter, planet or ran into
something bad. Tactile pieces are then put on the grid to show
what you found... and you might lose one of your ships. I found
one planet and a lot of bad aliens.


6. Plinko - A carnival favorite. Drop your discs down the
30-inch-high Plinko board and see where they end up when they
finish bouncing around. Large print and Braille slot values
are posted at the bottom of the board.
 


*** This game seemed to be a favorite with most campers. It was
a fast and easy way to win. Donna, who worked the booth, said she
ran out of tokens and had to steal more from a nearby game.

7. Spin-a-Prize - Another carnival classic. Place your ticket on
one number or split it between two, using the tactile betting
board. Then spin the wooden wheel and see if you're a lucky
winner.
 


*** I didn't like this game because I didn't win. Ruth won the
jackpot and got 25 tokens. I know she enjoyed the game.

8. Dingo Royal - (One or two people can play this at once.) Try
your hand at this fast-paced variation of the popular deaf
community game. The cards have large numbers and Braille
markings. Earn points for clearing out whole suits and win a
bonus if you go out.
 


*** I love Dingo, and I loved this game. It was fun being able
to play a short version of what is usually a long card game.
Scott uses only the 10 cards, jacks, queens, kings and aces. Each
person gets 10 cards. If the joker is played by the person
running the booth, then you get to pick any card to turn over.

I think I played against David. I earned two tokens for clearing
out two suits. David got down to one card and then won the game.
If there had been more time, I would have gone back to play this
again.

9. Slime Time - No Tactile Carnival is complete without a pit
full of slimy ooze and creepy-crawlers for you to stick your hand
into. You've got 60 seconds to rescue as many butterflies and
ladybugs as you can from the slime pit. And don't worry about the
scorpions, spiders, ants, dragonflies, bees, roaches, centipedes,
snakes and other lovable critters waiting to meet your fingers -
very few of them bite.
 
*** Slime Time is an awesome game! You might say it's a real
scream... with a lot of laughter and funny faces. Now, I know you
are thinking Scott is brilliant for creating a slime game. Wrong!
The slime was my idea! I am definitely into slime.

Finding the nice bugs was harder than you'd imagine. Those things
are way slippery. I thought it would be easier to focus on
ladybugs, but the roundish shape made them hard to grip. I
finally switched to butterflies. I won three tokens on this game.
I couldn have played that one all night without getting bored.
Yeah, I'm a little weird.

10. Shooting Starfish - (sighted players must wear a blindfold.)
Use the long pole to find the big metal bucket and try to toss
the rubber fish in to earn points. After you've thrown the
trouts, bass, lobster, crab, and seahorse, take extra care to get
the starfish in the bucket and earn a bonus.

*** It was the pole that made this game successful. Usually
when a person who is blind plays a target game, they are throwing
at random. But with this one, the target location and distance
could be easily judged with the pole. There was no need to ask
SSP's where to find the target.

11. Extinct! - Once upon a time, the dinosaurs ruled the Earth.
Choose which of the jumbo dinosaur figures you think will outlive
all the others, as the mighty creatures fall to extinction one by
one. The longer your dinosaur survives, the more points you earn.
Find the hidden dinosaur eggs and win bonus points.
 


*** This was a really cute and extremely tactile game. I chose
the brontosaurus because he's the veggie eater. I held him in my
lap as I played.

To kill a bad dino, all you had to do was turn over a card. The
dinosaur that matched the one on the card became extinct. But
they didn't just tell you the name of the dinosaur. They actually
handed you the big figure. I enjoyed hitting them against the
table to make sure they were really dead. After I picked about
four cards, I turned over the brontosaurus. Game over. But he
went down with a fight. I smashed my finger when I tried to kill
him. And they say veggie-lovers aren't tough...

12. Pluto's Revenge - Pluto is NOT happy about losing his status
as a planet, and he's going to take it out on you and your fleet
of spaceships (space shuttle, Saturn 5 rocket, the Apollo and a
Gemini capsule). Move your Rover from planet to planet, starting
with Mercury and trying to get all the way to Neptune, by
advancing your fleet through space. But watch out for Pluto and
his gang of asteroids - they'll try to wreck your ships. The
giant game board has tactile planet magnets and raised
numbers for scoring, and the pieces are also tactile.

*** I liked this game. It didn't like me. Wham, bam and you are
dead. I'd like another chance to take my revenge on Pluto's
Revenge. The funny part was that Scott's dad ran this booth. He
wore a shirt that said, "In my days, we had nine planets."

Prizes, Prizes and more Prizes

In the weeks proceeding camp, Scott went crazy looking for the
best prizes. He bought all sorts of space related items and toys,
including those from television shows and movies. He had a bunch
of cool t-shirts. There were also small stuffed animals, stretchy
aliens, Pop Rocks, Star Burst and lots of other candy and snacks.
The bottom line is that Scott went all out on prizes.

After my big wins on some early games, I ran to the prize table
and used 25 tokens to buy a t-shirt. It's purple with pink
letters that says, "If lost, please return to Earth." I nabbed
the shirt first before someone else got it. But what I was really
determined to win was Darth Tater. (It's Mr. Potatohead but with
Darth Vader accessories.)

When I returned to the games, the pace slowed down. I had to wait
in lines and then didn't win many tokens. I finished my last game
just as the carnival ended. To my great surprise, Darth Tater was
still there. So, I was a happy camper with my t-shirt and toy.

The Tactile Carnival was totally awesome, and Scott was the star
of the night! He's too humble to take praise, but I was very
proud of him. I can't wait to play again.

For the record, the carnival might be over, but Scott is still
obsessed. He's already developing a new game. That man has a
scary smart brain and knows how to use it for making people
happy.

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