In part 2 of this series I talked about Fudge for Kids and Fudge for the blind. This week we’ll talk a bit about what makes Fudge a great game for people with dyslexia and similar learning disabilities. I didn’t have any additional input from the community, so please let me know about your own thoughts or experiences so we can make this column even better.
As a disclaimer, I am not an expert in the following field. I do, however, have close relationships with people who have dyslexia and other cognitive impairments.
What is Dyslexia?
Developmental reading disorder, also called dyslexia, is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols.
It isn’t widely understood that Dyslexia is more than just the reversal of letters as the reader views them on a page. There are many forms of dyslexia, and most of them have to do with the way in which the brain processes information. Complex language and sentence structures can be difficult for a person with dyslexia to parse and comprehend. Additionally, there are different forms of dyslexia relating to reading, math, and listening skills.
Dyslexia that affects one aspect of comprehension, such as reading, does not necessarily affect another, like math. A roommate of mine has a form of reading dyslexia but is an absolute whiz when it comes to arithmetic, for example. Other people, such as another close relationship of mine, have issues with math comprehension but little to no language comprehension issues.
Fudge and Dyslexia
So now that we know a little bit about what dyslexia is, how can we adapt Fudge to make it work for people who experience these issues?
The short answer is that Fudge is already set up in such a way that little adaptation needs to be made.
Fudge’s Trait Ladder has two distinct sides: an adjective and a numeric value. Recall that a Trait Ladder may look like this:
-3 | Terrible
-2 | Poor
-1 | Mediocre
0 | Fair
+1 | Good
+2 | Great
+3 | Superb
Its very nature is already accommodating of two common forms of dyslexia: math-based and word-based. Add to that the Fudge Dice, which use Plus and Minus symbols instead of numbers, and it’s a simple formula for success.
People who have difficulty with math need to understand just one concept: place your finger on your character’s trait level on the ladder, then move your finger up or down based on the rolled dice values. Announce “I got a Good result” or “Dang, a Poor result.” Everyone understands what these descriptions mean in relation to the Fudge system.
Alternately, players can use the game’s numeric system to their advantage. Roll 4dF, add your trait’s numeric value (+1 for Good, -3 for Terrible, etc.) and announce the result. “I got a +1” or “Dang, -2” are equally as valid as the above example and mean the exact same thing in the context of Fudge.
Finally, the Trait Ladder’s language can be simplified to be made easier to read, comprehend, and/or memorize. By throwing awy the thesaurus and using qualifiers such as “vary” or “not so,” the ladder might look like this:
-3 | Very Bad
-2 | Bad
-1 | Not so Bad
0 | Not so Good
+1 | Good
+2 | Very Good
+3 | Super Good
By simplifying the language, it’s easier for a person with comprehension issues to get a grasp of the ladder. Fudge encourages altering the trait ladder to fit your needs or to fit the theme of a game, so these alterations don’t even have unintended consequences.
The Fudge RPG is known for its adaptability and ease of use. Though it wasn’t necessarily designed for accessibility, its very nature makes it one of the best RPGs to introduce to people with a wide variety of ability levels. As a universal system, it can be themed and re-skinned to fit any setting, and its rules can be simplified or extended as much as the players would like. If you or someone you know has a disability but are interested in role-playing games, why not give Fudge a try?
Finally, please comment or contact me in regards to your own experiences. Even if you’ve never played Fudge with someone who has a disability, let me know if you can think of other ways to adapt it.