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Being blind doesn't mean you can't play videogames

A videogame research project conducted at the University of Nevada has produced a new experimental game called VI Fit. The game was created to aid the visually impaired in keeping physically fit. "Lack of vision forms a significant barrier to participation in physical activity, and consequently children with visual impairments have much higher obesity rates and obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes," says project leader Eelke Folmer.

Calling this experiment a videogame isn’t entirely accurate considering that being optically challenged makes any kind of video entirely pointless; however, the game is based on current videogame technology (the Wii, to be precise). While VI Fit is modeled on Nintendo’s Wii Fit, Nintendo does not endorse the project in any way. VI Fit features two games – VI Bowling and VI Tennis – and both can be downloaded for free at vifit.org. The game utilizes Wii remote controllers and a Windows PC with Bluetooth support. Players are instructed throughout the game with the use of both audio and vibrotactile (fancy-schmancy word for sound vibration) cues.

The project has been underway at Camp Abilities in New York and had 19 blind test subjects so far – 13 children and six adults. Even more interesting is that the project seems to be working. According to the group of scientific space-brains running the first tests, “levels of active energy expenditure… were high enough to be considered healthy.” In other words, people were actually up and moving around.

There’s no word on whether the VI Fit participants are actually enjoying themselves while they play these games, but you’ve got to give the game creators credit for innovation. So, what are your thoughts on “video” games for the sensory impaired? Give us your two cents in the comments section!


May 28, 2010

Topics

Nintendo

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10 comments

  • shyfonzie - May 31, 2010 2:03 a.m.

    I guees the blind people's sonar wouldn't work on a tv screen. It's a good thing this game works to their other heightened sense. Does it have touch and taste? Or just smell-o-vision?
  • Xplosive59 - May 30, 2010 8:23 p.m.

    damn spammers
  • H2A2I00 - May 30, 2010 12:22 a.m.

    The people behind this are good people. Everyone needs entertainment in some form during their day and if this is the first step in a new type of entertainment for them then I believe they should continue to better what they have and also improve their quality of life.
  • 510BrotherPanda - May 29, 2010 8:08 a.m.

    @sleepy92ismypsn I know this will sound a little rude, but how does your aunt dodge trees if she skis? Can she hear the position of the tree trunks like Daredevil's sonar sight? On another note, it's nice to see the ingenuity of people helping the something-disabled with different avenues of therapy. Perhaps the feedback from these tests can improve society's outlook on these individuals, and the improve the tactile, auditory, and maybe FLAVOR of video games. Who cares about the motion control, I want a game that involves my ENTIRE 5 senses, not just sight, touch and sound.
  • henry-medina - November 11, 2012 7:37 p.m.

    well i am happy they helping the blind people.... maybe one day they beat you in video game who knows tec is always changing to new challenges :)....
  • itkonlyyou87 - May 29, 2010 3:47 a.m.

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  • Spocksjock - May 28, 2010 11:26 p.m.

    This is a really good sign. It is awesome that videogames are being opened to a wider audience, and is providing entertainment to everyone. I also think its pretty cool that you guys wrote a story on it!
  • sleepy92ismypsn - May 28, 2010 10:50 p.m.

    my aunt sheri is blind she lives is fit she even goes skiing sometimes. i don't think any blind people will buy a wii if they can only play VI fit.
  • CH3BURASHKA - May 28, 2010 10:35 p.m.

    It really sucks for [color]blind, as well as deaf, mute, and physically handi-capped people. It's cool to know that someone is trying to make gaming accessible to them. Perhaps we are at a crossroads from which gaming splits off into many varieties, all suited towards the physical needs of its audience, though most likely not.
  • batman5273 - May 28, 2010 10:35 p.m.

    wow!!

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