Blind Gamers Benefit from University Project

Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno have developed motion-sensing games that are aimed at increasing the activeness of blind children.

The VI Fit project currently has two adapted titles available for download, VI Tennis and VI Bowling. Both games utilize the Nintendo Wiimote in combination with a PC (the PC must feature support for Bluetooth or a Bluetooth dongle can be used). VI Tennis was upgraded to include audio and vibrotactile clues that help to indicate when a player should serve or return a shot, while VI Bowling uses vibrotactile feedback to assist gamers in finding the appropriate direction to aim their bowling ball.

Research team leader, and assistant professor, Eelke Folmer, stated, “Lack of vision forms a significant barrier to participation in physical activity and consequently children with visual impairments have much higher obesity rates and obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes.”

Executables for both games can be downloaded from the VI Fit webpage free of charge.

A previous university project adapted Guitar Hero for use by the blind. Blind Hero also used vibrotactile feedback, though in a glove for this implementation. The feedback buzzed the appropriate finger to signal that it should be used to press a Guitar Hero controller fret.

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  1. 0
    SeanB says:

     Stories like this make me miss JT. If he were here there would already be a press release about how the military was going to use this technology to train blind soldiers who couldn’t see their helpless targets.

  2. 0
    DarkTetsuya says:

    I’ll admit I’m only friends online with at least one blind gamer, but I certainly can’t imagine trying to play even Super Mario Bros. (let alone DDR or ROCKBAND) without being able to see… I know I did have some ideas for making rhythm games accessible for those with disabilities, like different audio cues just before the note reaches the target to signify which one you’d need to it… although that might be disorienting because you couldn’t concentrate on the music…

    But I did read about ‘Blind Hero’, certainly sounds like an interesting take on the music games adapted for the blind.

    300 Episodes and counting:

  3. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    Considering schools still have an issue with helping children with dyslexia, I don’t see them ever coming up with valid options for blind children.

    I agree that the public school system is falling increasingly behind the private sector in pretty much all sectors. 

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
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  4. 0
    nightwng2000 says:

    While I’m glad there is research in this area, I have a problem with this statement:

    “Lack of vision forms a significant barrier to participation in physical activity and consequently children with visual impairments have much higher obesity rates and obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes.”

    As with many statistics, I find this one VERY misleading.

    We have to take into account that many visually impaired kids in Public Schools have less opportunities in certain physical activities and that many Public Schools won’t make even minor adaptations for certain activities because it isn’t cost effective.

    I went to the Governor Morehead School for the Blind, and so our school was designed to adapt for visually impaired students.  Including major high school sports.  From wrestling to basketball to even track & field.  And we played against other schools, even Public Schools.  Not saying we won a great deal, but it did depend on the capabilities of the players, and we DID win from time to time.

    Additionally, due to a lack of ignorance on the part of many in the Public School systems, visually impaired, and even other disabled students, are treated with extreme care, even when they don’t need to be treated as such.  It is more the school system and those authorities within it that are more to blame.

    Even a number of individuals here have argued as to why bother applying options that aid the visually impaired in certain games.  The argument has been that if they can’t see to play, even having a small issue that could be corrected, then they shouldn’t play the games.

    The options are there.  The adaptations are available.  They just need to be implimented.  Whether in the schools, in games and other media, or in other aspects of everyday life, including in the home.


    NW2K Software

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