App adaptations of Mahjong are mostly in the form of Mahjong Solitaire, a variation of the original, and significantly more complex, ancient Chinese game. For this reason, our analysis of Mahjong focused only on the Solitaire variant, where users must pair tiles with matching symbols together to reveal the tiles underneath and gradually clear the game board.
This particular version of the app is recommended for people living with dementia primarily because of its accessibility options, customisable aesthetics and absence of adverts. The app contains options such as ‘shadow’ which darkens the tiles that cannot yet be played. This feature is very useful as it was found that other apps, which did not offer this, became straining on the eyes and made it hard to distinguish between the playable and unplayable tiles. Further options include various backgrounds and tile designs to choose from, allowing the user to customise the look of their game. The app also provides in-game help such as requesting hints and unlimited shuffles of the tiles. An optional zoom mode adjusts the display to focus on the remaining tiles as the game continues.
A potential drawback to this version of the app is the method in which the option buttons appear and disappear during gameplay as the user touches any other part of the screen. A similar design feature was used in our recommended version of Solitaire, and during our testing of that app it sometimes caused confusion or distraction with our participants. Whilst this did not affect everyone who tested the app in that study, it is worth considering when playing or introducing this app.
Access the settings by tapping the Options button from the main menu. We recommend the following (in bold):
- Sounds (tap the speaker icon to turn Off/On)
- Shadow (Enabled)
- Background/Tileset (the default settings provide good contrast and display symbols clearly, however they can be personalised here if preferred by tapping the arrows left and right to cycle through the options)
During gameplay, tap the arrow in the upper right corner (or anywhere other than the tiles on screen) to reveal the options.
- Tap Shuffle to reorganise the tiles, if stuck
- Tap Undo to undo the most recent move
- Tap Hint for a clue to the next possible move (tiles will move subtly)
- Tap Menu to access further options in-game, return to the main menu, restart the game or select a new level