Immersive Browser Games: The OGame Experience from a Blind Player

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Browser games are a fascinating world of entertainment available right from your web browser. They have an amazing variety of genres, immersing players in exciting adventures. In this article, I will try to share a unique experience of playing OGame on behalf of a blind player.

OGame: Conquest of Space Empires

Among numerous browser games, one of the most colorful and exciting is OGame.

OGame is a unique browser-based online strategy game developed by the German company Gameforge AG. The game was released in 2002 and continues to expand since then.

OGame’s main concept is to manage a space empire, which includes such features as interplanetary colonization, ownable star systems, and customizable fleets. Players can construct different types of buildings on their planets, mine resources, research new technologies, form fleets of ships, and fight one another for dominance and new territories.

OGame has become popular due to its simple mechanics as well as the option to compete against thousands of other players… Just keep in mind that the in-game universe does not pause when you go offline.

A Blind Man’s Experience in the World of OGame

I think it is worth starting off by saying that I explored the game without the help of a sighted person, so I will only talk about what was available to me, as a blind person using a screen reader.

Signing up and logging in did not cause any problems — the process was straight-forward and easily understandable. The only thing to note is that the login and registration form toggles lack an element type. In other words, the text of the “Login” element is voiced, but does not convey the information that it is an interactive element, i.e. a link or a button. You will also need to activate your account by clicking the link in the email delivered to your inbox upon registration.

Next are the server selection and server join buttons. I have to note the signature of the server select button that is simply labeled as “Play,” which can be somewhat misleading. When logging into a server for the first time, you will need to input your name or use the one generated by the game itself, as well as choose your game mode: “Beginner” or “Cadet Mode” with interactive learning or “Veteran” that does not provide much in the way of hints and tips, but immediately immerses you into gameplay.

It is also worth noting that the game opens a new tab each time you log into a server. Pay attention to this to avoid accumulating open tabs and putting a strain on your system.

Now we move on to the game’s main screen, from where we are going to rule our very own space empire. There are two main navigation menus here: the player menu and the menu for managing our entire empire, as well as other items such as viewing the current interactive tutorial task or the option to purchase additional bonuses. The navigation menus are presented as lists of links and are easy to use. The player menu includes statistics, notes, friends list, game settings, and support contact form.

There is also a list of values below the player menu, presumably representing available resources. The problem, however, is that only the number of resources is voiced, but not the resources themselves. During my play time, I assumed which value corresponds to which resource, relying on logic alone.

There are also some inconveniences when choosing a class for special bonuses. You can choose one of three classes: “Collector,” “General,” and “Explorer.” However, there are two issues — first, the class activation element is signed but not identified as interactive, and second, this element is placed above the class, not under it. Because of this, a situation arose where I selected the “General” class instead of the desired “Collector” class. It is possible to change the class later, of course, but it will require a certain amount of resources, which you will have to save up for a while or buy with real money.

Next comes the navigation menu for managing various aspects of your empire, such as resource extraction, construction, production, research, fleet formation, and others. Here, as in most cases, we run into familiar problems: items are signed but not identified as interactive. In the case of construction or production, if you do not possess enough resources, the name of the corresponding building, ship, satellite, etc. will not be voiced. If you do have enough resources, however, the button will be displayed, signed, and function correctly. However, in shipyard management, only the number of ships is always voiced, but not their names. To build a ship, you must activate a value from the list that opens the menu to start building said ship. This menu will already contain the ship’s name and all the information on the resources necessary for construction.

There is also a nuance related to interactive learning. Whenever we want to view our current tasks, the interactive learning seems to go to a page with the various steps and the tasks related to our current step. However, if you need to view tasks or rewards for a stage that has already been completed, and you try to navigate to that stage, it seems as if the tutorial window closes. It actually turns into a pop-up at the bottom of the page, and it took me a long time to figure out what was going on until I accidentally discovered this pop-up.

While the above hurdles and problems can be overcome or at least adapted to, there is one major issue that prevented me from continuously playing the game. At the end of the tutorial’s second stage, an expedition fleet must be dispatched, but this did not work for me. In order to send a fleet out, you have to customize various settings, including mission and target coordinates. However, I was unable to select these despite numerous attempts.

No matter how hard I tried, I was unable to customize these parameters, and, unfortunately, I was never able to find a way to dispatch that fleet.

What we can say in the end is that OGame is a fascinating browser-based strategy where you can stand at the helm of your own space empire.

The game has a lot of complexities and nuances for the blind, which is only natural given the likely lack of attention to accessibility during development. However, these complexities are not critical and can be adapted to.

Nevertheless, there are critical issues that hinder a full game experience for blind players. Some of the game’s elements do not provide opportunities for interaction without visual control. Despite this, the game can be appealing to visually impaired players, as the fleet dispatch aspect is not an acute problem for them.

This concludes my review of OGame, and I plan to share impressions of other browser games in the future.

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