A videogame about surveillance that’s designed to be hacked

The popularity of hacking fantasies today has more in common with a legend like Robin Hood than what might be immediately apparent. In both cases, one of society’s underdogs has found a way to cheat the systems upheld by authorities and turn them on their head—either through stealing money or hacking into computers. The technology and techniques have changed over the years but not the underlying desire. It’s only one strand of evidence that suggests cheating is an integral part of the human condition. This is something that Damien, the disabled dad and husband behind Sheffield-based game studio Ninja in A…


Taking up the responsibility of making games for the visually impaired

Jarek Beksa first encountered the need for audio-based games when working for Orange—the telecommunications company—in Poland. He was doing a usability study with voice recognition and speech synthesis applications, during which, one of the blind testers said, “Nobody makes games for us.” It drew Beksa towards the potential of using this technology to make games for the 300 million visually impaired people around the world. But it wasn’t until a few years later and after a move to New Zealand that Beksa would act upon his realization that day. He’s currently doing a PhD research project at Auckland University of Technology,…


Pavilion gets eye-tracking support to better support disabled players

Visiontrick Media has revealed that its “fourth-person” puzzle adventure Pavilion is getting eye-tracking controls. The studio teamed up with eye-tracking specialist company Tobii to develop a way for the game to be played solely with your gaze—no keyboard or mouse needed. This is, obviously, a big help for people who have disabilities that make using a keyboard or mouse difficult. The only catch is that you will need a Tobii EyeX Eye-Tracker device in order to play Pavilion with your eyes. But the good news is that the device does work with a bunch of other games including The Division, Watch Dogs…

That Little Star

Videogame protagonists can have Asperger syndrome too

Chirag Chopra, the founder of New Delhi-based game studio Lucid Labs, got interested in finding out more about Asperger syndrome after watching a few movies about it, including Fly Away (2011) and A Brilliant Young Mind (2014). After doing research into the subject, Chopra decided that he wanted to make a game with a protagonist who has Asperger syndrome in order to, like those films, show that people with it lead lives like everyone else. This is true in many cases: Asperger syndrome isn’t an illness or disease, it means that a person sees and experiences the world slightly differently to…


Owlboy is a masterful tale of transcending disability

My girlfriend speaks softly. She’s a ghost on the phone. If you ever met her in person, you’d lean in a little when she introduced herself. You could say it’s her personality. But you’d only be half right. The other half has something to do with a very large truck that collided with her small body when she was seven, leaving her in such a state that the doctors who treated her became locally famous. While the miracle docs lined up for pictures in the newspaper, Erin was still unable to communicate; it was years, she tells me now, before…


How to talk about videogames (if you’re blind)

One of the first things that people notice when they flip on their consoles are the catchy intro sequences; the flashy animations of the screen. Videogames have a quantified area around them that’s visual. After all, so many game elements are conveyed through visual means, such as objective markers and collectables. Usually, in a videogame review, these visual references will pop up. Pixels will be examined, judgments will be passed on art direction and the success of animated bodies. I, however, don’t review visuals at all. I have to look to different aspects of a videogame to make up for…