Voices in the Dark
A team of independent developers is making a video game without graphics. People with a vision impairment will be able to enjoy the game. It will rely on people using their hearing and imagination. The developers want to give players a new experience. Early feedback has been very positive. Gamers like 19-year-old James are looking forward to playing. The team uses two microphones at once to record sounds. The technique allows them to create sound with the perception of space and depth. People can then navigate the 3D world using just their hearing.
Posted by: Carl Thompson, on 03/11/11
Games can feature graphics that appear almost photorealistic
Modern video games now often feature graphics that appear almost photorealistic. But people with visual impairment are often excluded from enjoying them. Fortunately, a team of independent game developers in Chile is making a game that can be enjoyed by a wide audience. Called Voices in the Dark, the unique game has no visual component.
Pablo Mera Pastor is a game designer at IguanaBee in Chile. Pablo says his team is
aiming at making an incredible new experience for everybody.
Use your imagination
Imagine a free 3D environment to explore, but were you can't see anything and you rely only on your sense of hearing, Pablo says.
We plan to tell stories like people used to do it through radio theatre, but in a much more interactive way. Imagination will be a big part of the process, as each player will fill the visual gaps with his own mind.
Pablo says his team's goal was to
give people a completely new and fascinating experience. He says the reaction to a prototype version of the game was
We have received very positive feedback of our game mechanics ideas, the work on sound effects and more. That is always very motivational to keep us going!
A level playing field
The game is highly anticipated by many gamers around the world. One example is 19-year-old James, who is blind. James says his friends love video games.
They always have Call of Duty marathons and stay up all night playing. I often play, and I do okay by listening through my headphones. I mostly lose though and that frustrates me.
James says he is excited by the prospect of a game that uses sound only.
It will be great! I will finally be on a level playing field with my friends. At the same time though, I will have no excuse if I lose!
The developers of Voices in the Dark use
binaural sound to immerse players in the game. Sounds are recorded by the team using two microphones at once. This binaural recording gives the perception of space and depth. The technology allows the player to navigate and interact with the virtual world through the auditory clues alone.
The game's developers are currently seeking donations to help fund the rest of the game's development. This type of
crowd funding is becoming increasingly popular among small independent games developers. Donations of any size are accepted. Those that donate over $15 receive a copy of the game when it is finished.
Paving the way
The developers hope Voices in the Dark will encourage the creation of other video games that are accessible to people with a disability. Pablo says
I think people with disabilities are beginning to show in the radar of game developers.
(But it is) not as fast as it could or should be.
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