A video game designed for the blind and the visually impaired

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A group of students in France from the the School of Advanced Digital Technologies (ETNA) have developed a game called The White Eye intended for the blind and visually impaired. Indeed, the game is based on 3D audio effects allowing the player to immerse him- or herself into the adventure. The players will have to use the distance, the depth and the volume of the sounds to play and win the game.

A 3D audio universe close to reality

How can we talk video games without images? Unfortunately for the blind and visually impaired, the gaming world is not accessible. However, a 2017 study estimated that the number of blind and visually impaired people will be increase threefold in the world by 2050. Recall that in 2015, there were 36 million blind people and 127 million visually impaired.

The fact is that video games for this type of people are very rare. In order to get around the problem, it is incumbent to integrate spatialized sound allowing the player to evolve in the game. This working base was that of five students from the School of Advanced Digital Technologies (ETNA). The latter are behind a video game called The White Eye, which received the innovation prize during the 2019 Major Projects competition.

Students say they have developed a 3D audio universe close to reality. Besides, their mobile game relies entirely on audio. The user plays Lunark, an old shoemaker who has lost his sight and whose daughter has been kidnapped. His goal is therefore to find her. The player will then have to move in the dark based on the distance, depth and volume of the sounds. According to the creators, the greatest difficulty was the production of sound effects, including music and dubbing.

A first chapter in 2021

The team is currently developing the game prologue, which could be available by the end of 2020. The latter will integrate the work of professional voice actors as well as music exclusively composed for the game. After the prologue, the students will focus on the first chapter from the beginning of 2021. The project was carried out with the participation of the visually impaired. As the students continue their tests, they are currently accepting new people willing to try the game and give their opinion.

The creators want to find a way to push the immersion even further. They are considering in particular the use of a connected bracelet. This device could also allow sighted people to understand the game like an audiobook.

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