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How blind people play games?

Participante(s) : Mario Lang
Idioma : English Nivel : Principiante Actividad : Conferencia
Fecha : Viernes 9 de julio de 2010 Horario : 11h00 Duración : 40 minutes
Lugar : Bat. A22 - Amphi Darwin
Temas transversales : AccessibilitéEn anglais


There are many different ways how a game for a blind or visually impaired person can work. First of all, we can play a few text mode games pretty nicely with braille displays. Sometimes, it might be necessary to make use of a pause key to have enough time to review the screen (tetris), but in other cases like NetHack, it is perfectly possible to play the game without any special tricks.

Even chess can easily be represented in text mode for consumption with a braille display. At least if the user has a bit of experience with reconstructing two-dimensional information. However, you dont need a braille display to play games. Blind people are used to using their ears, so we can also design games for the ears, instead of the eyes.

One famous (and early) game from that category is/was "Shades of Doom", a first person shooter largely based on the ideas behind "Doom". It implements a 3D audio engine, and adds a few useful clues to the game play experience to make navigation through the maze pretty easy. The most important trick it uses is to model foot step echoes. So if you walk along a tunnel you will hear a bit of foot-step echo, and if you walk through a crossing of tunnels, you hear the echo of your footsteps to the sides, just as you do in real life (but most of you will typically not care/notice). With that (and a few other techniques), Shades of Doom nicely demonstrated that a 3D audio game is feasable and actually extremely fun to play.

We need a 3D audio engine for Linux! Even Realtime strategy games can be played from an audio perspective only. SoundRTS implements this (and it even works on Linux!)

Conference resources […]

Mario Lang

I am visually impaired since birth and blind since I was 7 years old. At daytime I am a Linux specialist at Graz University of Technology. In my spare time I am a Debian Developer, mostly involved in Accessibility related topics.