Advances in video game technology usually mean better graphics or new online gaming options, but a team at MIT has taken the Nintendo Wii's innovative three-dimensional controller and used it to create something completely new - a video game that visually impaired and sighted players can play together. AudiOdyssey is a music-based game similar to Guitar Hero that presents a level playing field to all players, whether they can see the screen or not. AudiOdyssey Night at your local bar can't be far behind.
AudiOdyssey was developed because an MIT grad student looked into games designed for the visually impaired, and found that all of them were designed solely for blind people to play. Sighted people couldn't play them successfully because they weren't as good at reading audio and tactile cues. That meant that a group of blind and sighted friends couldn't hang out together and play the same games.
Using the Wiimote (or just a computer keyboard), AudiOdyssey players build up audio tracks played by a DJ in the game's fictional nightclub. If they layer the tracks properly and create a good song, the club's patrons will fill the dance floor. The game is early in its development, and can be downloaded for free. A more advanced version is in the works.
Is the game any good? It seems to have accomplished the major goal of bridging the gap between blind and sighted gamers. A visually impaired MIT grad student, Alicia Verlager, who playtested AudiOdyssey was quoted in MIT's press materials:
"The element I probably most envy about gamers is just the way they hang out together and share doing something fun," she says. "It's the social aspects of Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft that I really want to try myself and so hanging out with other gamers playing AudiOdyssey was really fun."
Image by: Singapore-MIT Gambit Game Lab.
New Video Game Lets Visually Impaired Share The Fun. [Science Daily]