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Playing a blind character

I think one day I’ll have to program a game where you play a blind character. I had it in mind a few years ago when I got to know AudioQuake, which is accessible to blind people. Now, I was randomly browsing the insert credit pages, when I came across Blind Adversaries, the PC passage catches my eye;

In terms of blind playable characters, developers have done little to modify games’ mechanics or aesthetics based on the affliction. Nothing in the way of showing the world to the player as the character would experience it is attempted, naturally, because videogames by definition rely on images. Furthermore, all of the following characters are viewed through a third-person camera, which conveniently avoids presenting their point of view (or lack thereof). Usually, their blindness lends only to an interesting backstory and offbeat attacks; occasionally a bondaged wardrobe.

The same might be applied to being deaf – although the restrictions on gameplay are not as bad, and commonly grenades and other items may make the player unable to hear for short periods of time, but still see the action (and dangers).

A blind first person perspective character I’ve never seen. The examples are all from fighting games, and as the wiki notes, basically has no effect on the PC’s performance apart from an “interesting” backstory. There have been, of course, dark games, and games which have special vision, but these are never truly inhibiting since you get given torches and whatnot to deal with it.

The problem with making a game where you cannot see anything is that while in real life you have touch and hearing to help, in games you only have hearing (we’ll ignore smell and taste). There are ways to remedy this partially; force feedback on controllers would allow certain actions to produce feedback (such as feeling if anything is in front of you), or a certain noise can be associated with a certain type of touch (or, although this is a bit silly, an icon could appear detailing what you feel – like a “minds image” of the object your holding). For things like temperature and pain, you’d need appropriate sounds – probably made by the character, or an artificial sound representative of it.

Allowing for being blind would also remove, from most game types, a lot of the jumping and complex navigation usually needed. If it was a combat game, a lot of actions would have to become automatic – climbing, jumping short distances, getting up stairs, and so on. Of course, it could be a Superman-like blind person, but unless some kind of graphic is shown of NPC’s/obstacles, PC’s won’t get very far, which defies this ideas point anyway.

It’d also be interesting to see a game where there was a team of people, with different impairments – someone is deaf, someone else is blind, someone is mute, someone cannot run or jump and so on. Navigation through a level with players helping each other would be interesting – the mute and deaf people possibly would have to rely on sign language perhaps!

Or even if not a team, then NPC’s who could see would be able to guide the player through levels or whatever the aim of the game is (“follow my voice”). 3D sounds would likely be a good idea :)

All a bit of an idea – I’d like to see what could be done like AudioQuake has done, and play something other then deathmatch. Playing a game with your eyes specifically closed is certainly unique and quite fun!

Now I just need to get my programming up to scratch to code it…at least I won’t need any fancy graphics 😉

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