HAPTIC AND NON-VISUAL GAMES

A series of haptic and non-visual videogames created for Android tablet, commissioned by Harvestworks' Cultural Innovation Fund program. Videogames are an almost entirely visual experience, ignoring possibilities for innovative and meaningful gameplay using the other senses. In addition, visually-centered games leave out visually-impaired players. These games explore non-visual possibilities, focusing on creating non-linear and goal-less game experiences.

"Cave" is a tile-based adventure game where the player blindly navigates an algorithmically-created cave. Seeing only their current tile, the player moves by swiping their finger in the direction they want to move. Holding down a finger lights the player's flashlight, illuminating surrounding tiles, though it also drains the flashlight's batteries and the light eventually goes out. Red tiles teleport the player to a new, random location in the cave.

Sound and vibration are used to mimic footsteps, bumping into walls, and other events. The reverberation is controlled algorithmically depending on the height of the cave where the player is standing, creating spaces that open into vast caverns and contract into tight passages.

Further screenshots of "Cave"

The other non-visual game in this series, titled "Sonar", is inspired by Daniel Kisch, a blind man who can ride a bicycle by echolocation. In the game, the player moves through a space by tilting the tablet forward and steers by tilting it side-to-side. Objects fly towards the player, invisible except through a sonar scan, a tone that sweeps from left to right, changing loudness depending on how close the object is to the player. Best played through headphones, this is quite difficult at first but can quickly be learned.

For both games, sound design is a critical element: rather than reinforce defined goals or narrative, the sounds were designed to be as neutral as possible and mesh almost musically with the other sounds in the environment. For example, in "Sonar" the sound when the player bumps into an object is neither positive nor negative, letting the player to choose to see the objects as obstacles to avoid or rewards to gather.

Further screenshots of "Sonar"

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