Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Let's Bring in Some New People

Heads up folks. Here at Jimbo's Science Fiction and Fantasy Reviews we don't generally do commercials as such. I am more than happy to review something I've read or watched but this is a bit different. Today I'm doing an advert for a product that I flat out wouldn't know how to use if I had it. So needless to say, I don't have any personal experience with this. I just wanted to throw my weight behind it because I thought it was a really good idea.

Yes, you read that right. No, it's not a typo. See, here at Jimbo's we (all one of us) like to promote true inclusiveness into our hobbies. No, I don't mean fake inclusiveness that comes from excluding certain people in the style of K. Tempest Teacup or the last couple years or the Nebula Awards where "inclusiveness" means freezing out large segments of the population. I'm talking about inclusiveness where you actually bring new people into a hobby without finding it necessary to remove others that you happen to not like.  That's the right way to expand interest in something you love. You do it without spreading hate.

Anyway, what I came across in my journeys across the Magical Book of Faces was a product that promotes TRUE inclusion. It's something that I had never thought about but that makes a ton of sense once you have your face rubbed in it. (And yes my friends, sometimes face rubbing is what it takes.) Apparently, blind people have trouble reading dice. Yeah, I guess I should have realized that off rip, but since I had never gamed with a blind person before, the obviousness of this never dawned on me.

What the DOTS RPG Project has done is to make braille dice. Now blind people have a way to read their own dice at the table. Now they can join in on the fun. Now they can have the whole group in suspense about what a die roll comes out to instead of the group having them in suspense. I love this idea. I also know that with my sick sense of humor, I'd sit there laughing at important points in the adventure/campaign and INTENTIONALLY keep people in suspense because that's just me.

There is some stuff on their page about how to read these. Something about orientations and corresponding letters and probably something else that someone who actually knows how to read braille would probably understand. I don't read braille though, so it may as well have been Chinese as far as I'm concerned. I'd probably do better with Chinese. I don't read that either but at least I know a hanzi when I see it. If you put something in braille in front of me, I'm just as likely to think it's Morse Code or something.

The post I read also said that DOTS was planning on doing braille rulebook(s) at some point. I totally love that idea but if they exist at this point in time I was not able to find a link and so I couldn't include one. If someone who has a link to the rulebook(s) in question please drop a link in the comments. Also, please understand that I'm not leaving them out intentionally, but through ignorance.

Somewhere out there someone is reading this and thinking "Hey Jimbo, why are you putting this here? This blog does Science Fiction and Fiction. These dice aren't specfic. They actually exist." If that's you, then you have a point, sort of. I mean, these dice are real but they're intended (at least in part) for SF/F purposes. Seriously. Other than being pen and paper RPGs, what do all of the following having in common?

Heroes Unlimited
Dungeons and Dragons
GURPS (most settings anyway) and

They're all set in SF/F universes. They are SF/F. Pen and paper role players are us and we are them. It's time to bring more people into the club. Let's help them learn about Science Fiction and Fantasy. Dice (and I know this from experience) are a gateway drug. This way folks. A good GM/DM might as well be a good author when it comes to generating interest into things.

While I'm on the subject, I'm going to ask a couple of questions here that I honestly don't know the answers to. If you do, please leave the answers below because I'm interested, but I work sixty-five hours a week and I don't really have the time to research answers.

1.) Are popular SF/F books available in braille? Seriously? I mean, I know it's got to be more expensive to produce a braille brook than a printed one. I don't have the figures available at my fingertips but I can't see how it wouldn't. I would imagine that most independent authors (and I love indy authors, you're the lifeblood of my blog) can't really afford to offer braille printouts. But what about companies like Tor or Baen? They both sell lots of books and it should be possible I would think. If they don't I think they should. If they do, then good on them. I'm not insinuating that they don't. I'm flat out stating my ignorance in the matter. That's a totally different thing.

2.) Do SF/F authors/publishers (or any other author/publisher for that matter) donate free downloads of their audio books to charities for the blind? You know, like the Lions clubs or something. If not, they should. Again, if they do, then good on them. I'm not really sure how this would work with an Audible contract either. Speaking of which, does Audible do donations? There has to be a tax deduction here somewhere if it's a charity. Again, I'm not trying to make it look like they don't. I just don't know if they do.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for legislation to force anyone to do anything. I happen to believe that we have too many laws in this country already. I just think it would be something nice and something that could possibly bring economic benefits long term. No, I don't have statistics available. I haven't done the research and I don't have the chops to generate that kind of a study myself if I had. It just occurs to me that a person who gets a free book (like, oh say the first book in a series) might want to read/hear more from the same author.

Getting back on topic, the dice are now available for sale. There is also another site where you can download the directions to make your own. Er, actually it's a 3D printer program but close enough. I put the purchase link at the beginning of the post and I'm going to put it at the bottom as well. I decided not to include a link to the download page for the simple fact that I want to see the proprietors of the DOTS program rewarded with money. Not only do they deserve it, but their continued existence as a company is going to depend on an income stream. If you want to see more products added in the future and support what their doing, support them from your pocket book. If you want the programs you can Google them I guess, but I would urge anyone who has a need for braille dice or a spot in their collection for something they can't get anywhere else to drop a few bucks on some of these dice.

Braille Dice
DOTS RPG Project, 2018

DOTS dice are available at the following link:

Edit: Per the requst of the DOTS staff, I am also including the link to download the 3D printing instructions for the dice.

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