Turning a Blind Eye: An Exploration of Non-Visual Game Design
This thesis presents a non-visual game for visually impaired people which uses technology designed for interacting with Virtual Reality (VR) environments to provide a tailored experience that focuses on touch and sound. According to the world health organisation, 0.03% of the world's population is blind. However, according to the world’s largest computer game market, Steam, only 0.0003% of games published in its catalog are designed for visually impaired people. This discrepancy shows that there is a clear issue in regards to the representation of visually impaired people in the design of computer games. By examining existing computer games designed for visually impaired people, a set of design criteria was established in order to improve the experience delivered to a visually impaired player in a computer game. This was accomplished by adopting existing VR input methods such as tracked motion controllers and head tracking technology in order to track a player’s motion and position in space. The experience reacts to the position and placement of the player’s head and hands by using outputs such as spatialized audio combined with haptic feedback. A game was then designed using these inputs and outputs that would allow a visually impaired player to use their sound and proprioceptive senses to navigate and interact with the environment. Visually impaired people were interviewed in regards to their experience and thoughts upon computer games. The game experience was then be tested by the same group of visually impaired players and user feedback was then integrated into an iterative design process. The final outcome of this thesis is a game experience that takes into account the needs and requirements of the underrepresented audience of visually impaired people who wish to enjoy computer games as a medium.