A TALENTED student at the University of Huddersfield has developed a one-of-a-kind computer game for the blind.
Craig Burgess, 22, currently in his fourth year on the BSc (Hons) Computing Games Programming course, has been developing the working prototype for his final-year project.
The game, originally designed to resemble the classic 80s game Tempest, has now progressed to the point where it can be played by both visual and blind gamers.
It is programmed using Microsoft software known as XNA, meaning it can be played on XBox 360 consoles.
Different sounds are used to represent approaching threat; pitch and volume play a large role in indicating the location of the threat. The gamer then responds to the sounds by using the control pad to direct and shoot the target – resulting in a satisfying explosion.
For those who are partially-sighted, Craig has developed visuals to accompany the sounds, ensuring the game is playable by all.
He said: “The idea came from the desire to create something for people who have certain disabilities, which might stop them from interacting with games in the same ways as other people do.
“Because computer games are so visual, I thought it would be really interesting to think of ways of involving blind people with the gaming community in an audio way.
“My hopes for the game are really quite big. I think over the last couple of months it has moved from being my dissertation project to thinking about how it could be implemented into the mainstream gaming community – one of the ideas we had was to use an iPod as a means of playing it.
“I’m not really sure what the future holds, but I'd certainly like to see it being played by a lot more people.”
Duke Gledhill, senior lecturer in Informatics in the School of Computing and Engineering, said: “I think just the fact that Craig is approaching this subject matter is unique.
“There is an online forum for blind gamers, but nobody really concentrates on making comprehensive games that can actually rely on audio alone. I look forward to seeing how the game will develop in the future.”