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To The Dragon Cave profile: For love and gaming

To The Dragon Cave profile: For love and gaming

At the core of video game playing, there is a drive for connection. Through games, we build camaraderie among our teammates. We discuss story plots with other fans. We share our greatest accomplishments and our epic failures. However, the development of this social network depends on each player being able to access the same game. For millions of gamers, their disabilities prevent them from partaking in the majority of games enjoyed by their peers.

One such couple is Milos and his wife, Jana, who reside in a small town 130 miles southeast of Prague, Czech Republic. Fifteen years ago, Milos spotted Jana across the room at a university party. The connection between the couple was immediate and they closed out the party at 3 a.m. Milos called Jana the next day for a follow-up date and they have been together ever since. Over the years, the pair have deepened their relationship through shared experiences. As a couple, the pair enjoy hiking, travelling, and discussing technology.

They also love playing games. Unfortunately, Jana's blindness prevented them from enjoying the same games together. Jana lost her sight due to Juvenile idiopathic arthritis during her teenage years. While they both enjoy gaming, their physical abilities led them down different gaming paths.

Jana tends to play blind-accessible gaming staples, such as Blind Drive, Sonar Islands, Mousekick, and Accessible 2048 on mobile. Meanwhile, Milos focuses on PC-based first-person shooters such as DOOM and Wolfenstein.

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One afternoon, Jana snuggled into her living room couch to play her favourite game (Mousekick) only to find that an iOS update had rendered the game inaccessible. This was the final straw for Milos. He was tired of watching his wife being denied dynamic gaming experiences. Milos left his job as a database software developer to form Kikiriki Games. The mission of the company was to bridge the gaming gap between blind and sighted gamers. Milos wanted to create a game that would allow both types of players to compete on a level playing field. In addition, he wanted to highlight the capabilities of the blind community through his protagonist. Most importantly, he wanted to share his love of first-person shooters with his wife.

A year later, Kikiriki Games released their first game called To the Dragon Cave. To the Dragon Cave is a first-person shooter that flips the script on the typical fairy tale story. The game’s protagonist is a princess who was kidnapped by an evil dragon. In his cruelty, the dragon blinded the princess with his dragon fire. A failed rescue attempt leads the princess' betrothed, Prince Harold, to be dragged off to the dragon’s lair. Undaunted by her circumstances, the princess breaks out of her tower prison, fights off enemies and saves the day. The game is a lesson for players not to underestimate someone’s capabilities based on their often ill-informed preconceptions regarding the person’s abilities.

‘o the Dragon cave is proof that game developers are able to create enriching games that are accessible to blind and sighted players alike. This accomplishment was achievable because Kikiriki Games made accessibility a primary pillar of the game development process. Making a truly accessible game requires the game developer to consider accessibility from the outset of the project. To the Dragon Cave has been downloaded by thousands of blind and sighted players. In forums, comment sections, and in person, these two groups are discussing the merits and challenges of a common experience. The game’s leaderboards are populated by both blind and sighted players. In the end, Kikiriki Games accomplished its goal of bridging the gaming gap between blind and sighted players.

With the success of To the Dragon Cave, Milos and Jana are inspired to deliver more gaming experiences that connect blind and sighted gamers. They expect that their next release will be more complex and dynamic. As they develop new games, the couple will continue to employ both blind and sighted developers to create the most inclusive gaming experiences. Through Kikiriki Games, Milos and Jana can now add gaming to their list of shared experiences.

To the Dragon Cave is available now on the App Store.