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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%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;s Wii Fit, Nintendo does not endorse the project in any way. VI Fit features two games %26ndash; VI Bowling and VI Tennis %26ndash; and both can be downloaded for free 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 atCamp Abilitiesin New York and had 19 blind test subjects so far %26ndash; 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, %26ldquo;levels of active energy expenditure%26hellip; were high enough to be considered healthy.%26rdquo; In other words, people were actually up and moving around.

There%26rsquo;s no word on whether the VI Fit participants are actually enjoying themselves while they play these games, but you%26rsquo;ve got to give the game creators credit for innovation. So, what are your thoughts on %26ldquo;video%26rdquo; games for the sensory impaired? Give us your two cents in the comments section!

May 28, 2010