Game Playing Aid

Designers: Stephen McClure and Michael Wu
Client Coordinators: Lisa Queen
Supervising Professor: Dr. Larry N. Bohs

The client was a six-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. Because of her disability, she had difficulty playing board games with her family and friends. The game playing device addresses her main needs: board stability, piece maneuverability, card play, and dice rolling. A frame/well combination provides stability for the board, while a metal surface and magnets mounted on game pieces help her move the pieces without toppling them over. A card shoe and dice popper are also provided to assist with card play and dice rolling.

How this project helped
This device allows our client to participate in board games that had been frustrating to her. Her occupational therapist, Robbin Newton, commented “(She) is definitely a young girl who likes to be independent. The product is going to have an impact on her life by allowing her to play board games independently and normally as other children her age.”

There are four main components in the design: stabilizing the board, improving piece maneuverability, card play, and rolling dice.

After considering several options, we decided that a combination of a well and a frame would provide the best board stabilization and game access. The idea of a well also helped with piece maneuverability, as described below. A square piece of 2″ thick plywood, 21.5″ square, was routed to create a 7mm deep, 21″ square well into which any of the client’s favorite games would fit. A commercial 28″ square picture frame was modified to 22″ square to fit snuggly over the well. Plexiglas was mounted in the frame to make a transparent cover, using metal corner brackets.

To provide stability for game pieces, a sheet metal and game-piece magnet arrangement was devised. A layer of cloth was glued to either side of a piece of sheet metal, and the sheet metal glued inside the well. The layer of cloth on the top of the metal provided friction for the game board. The bottom layer of cloth reduced the distance between the sheet metal and the Plexiglas surface. This improved the function of magnets attached to the underside of game pieces. The Plexiglas provided a smooth surface on which the magnets could slide.

To make the frame and well attach to each other during storage or transport, we attached 10 small magnets to the corner brackets of the frame. These magnets held to the sheet metal of the well with a force just strong enough to hold the two parts together during transport.

Plastic sleeves, an electric card dealer, and a coupon dispenser were all considered for card play. A plastic casino card-shoe was purchased and found to work well for the client. For rolling dice, we bought the game “Trouble” and extracted the dice popper from the game. To make it easier to change dice to accommodate different games, we modified the popper so that the cover bubble was easy to remove and secure with rubber bands.

The cost of parts for the game playing aid was about $155.

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