A gaming app for blind people
A group of university students are getting international recognition for a video game app they designed for blind people.
Developed by PhD student Jarek Beksa, Audio Games Hub is a video game app that is designed to be played using audio rather than visual cues.
Beksa originally started the project in Poland before moving to New Zealand to continue studying at AUT University in Auckland.
‘‘Blind people seldom play games because they don’t know there are games out there,’’ Beksa says.
‘‘When I first did tests in Poland the blind people were really sceptical but after a few minutes of playing there was huge smiles.’’
He joined forces with five other students who have worked tirelessly on creating the free app.
So far it has been downloaded 33,000 times by users all over the world.
‘‘At the beginning it was quite easy, we looked at arcade games for sighted people and we looked to see if it was possible to transfer it,’’ Beksa says.
‘‘We blindfolded ourselves to see if it was possible and when we thought the game was playable we went to people who were blind who decided if they were playable.’’
Users rely on sounds, echo, effects and spoken word to carry them through the the various games including archery, block games similar to Tetris and labyrinth.
App developer David Delgado says the team had to overcome some obstacles.
‘‘Usually games rely on lights and visual elements, you have to completely take that out and that changes the way you design games.
‘‘We’re trying to provide an experience like no other for the blind community,’’ Delgado says.
One user in Canada emailed Audio Games Hub after playing the game and shared his joy of being able to play games with his wife.
‘‘You made possible something I thought I wouldn’t ever see,’’ the user said.
Launched in April, the app has picked up awards from global gaming event Play by Play Festival and the Royal National Institute of Blind People UK.
There is a demand to make more games and the team has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to develop more.
App designers Vincent Polehwidhi, David Delgado, Jarek Beksa and Jeong Su Jeon.