November 1, 2008 Computer engineers developed a new computer game, called AudiOdyssey, for visually impaired persons. The game primarily focuses on sounds and rhythms, which visually impaired and sighted players can both enjoy.
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Gamers spend hours playing their favorite video games. With all the hi-tech graphics, most are designed for those who can see. A new game created by electrical and computer engineers is scoring high marks for visually impaired players, too.
When you think of video games, flashy lights and graphics come to mind; but the game AudiOdyssey is designed to give those with sight disadvantages the same advantages as players with good vision.
"We were interested in seeing if we could make a game that would work equally well for both groups," said Eitan Glinert a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.
AudiOdyssey focuses on sound. The premise of the game is the player is a DJ trying build a catchy tune and get people on the dance floor. Players must match beats by swinging a Wii remote. Each time they get it right, a new layer of sound is added.
"As I match [the] beats the song gets more difficult," Glinert said.
Bluetooth technology wirelessly connects the Wii remote to the computer. AudiOdyssey can also be played using the arrow keys on your computer. Unlike many games, a real voice guides players through the menus.
"Everything that happens in the game has two components -- the visual component where you can see what's going on, and then there is the audio component where you can also hear what's going on," Glinert said.
Clara Fernandez tested the system by playing it blindfolded.
"It's a very similar experience if you do it without looking or you cannot see," said Fernandez. "It [actually] might be more enjoyable, because you are focusing on the music, and you're enjoying the music as you go."
The developer hopes news like that will be music to visually impaired players' ears.
AudiOdyssey is designed for Windows users and can be downloaded online for free.
ABOUT AUDIODYSSEY: "AudiOdyssey" is a video game in which the player acts as a DJ, attempting to incite the crowd to dance, thrilling more and more people with his or her rhythmic creations. Players form catchy tunes by swinging a motion-sensing Nintendo(r) Wii(tm) controller to set the rhythm and musical tracks. Players without a Wii can use the arrow keys on their keyboard. The funkier the beat, the better the score.
ACCESSIBLE TO EVERYONE: There are more than 200 video games customized for visually impaired competitors, which makes this activity accessible to those who would otherwise be unable to enjoy it. Many of the video games have specialized interfaces adapted for those who are unable to see well. However, "AudiOdyssey" is designed to be played by everyone, and includes visual information, making it easy for sighted and visually impaired friends to play this game together.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. IEEE-USA, contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.