Friday, April 13, 2012

10-Year-Old Makes Game His Blind Grandmother Can Play

Video games, like all forms of media, impart an understanding to players. Whether it's understanding the finer nuances of a game's rules or structure or an understanding the emotional impact of the narrative, video games bring people together. Fact.

Kotaku reported on avid gamer Dylan Viale, a fifth-grader from Martinez, California, who shares a special bond with his grandmother, Sherry. Naturally, he wanted her to understand his love for the medium.

Sherry, however, is blind. So, Dylan got a free version of YoYo Games' GameMaker and made a game that a blind person could play (and excel at, compared to those who aren't.)

The titular Quacky, illustrated by Dylan Viale
It's called Quacky's Quest and although the screenshot above shows a duck sprite, you can't actually see Quacky in the final version. Dylan taught himself the game dev basics but knew that sound would have to deliver the experience.

From Kotaku:

"So he downloaded GameMaker and started grinding through its tutorials. He read about basic design concepts, learning the ideas behind terms like objects and sprites. He figured out how to create a world that people could play in.Scrawling layouts and designs on notebooks during his free time, Dylan came up with Quacky's Quest, a game that puts you in the waddling shoes of an oddly-proportioned duck. Quacky was sort of a Viale family inside joke. Dino came up with the cartoon years ago, when he was in elementary school, and has spent decades using the goofy illustration to add his own personal touch to letters and notes. For Dylan, the duck was inheritance."

Players navigate Quacky to the end of a one-lane maze, relying on audio cues to let them know if they're headed in the right direction. The diamonds in the screenshot above chime when picked up, signaling a correct move. The spiders and walls make a negative sound, indicating that the player is off-track. Dynamite awaits those who don't follow the audio cues.

And Dylan's grandmother reportedly burned through Quacky's Quest, despite having no prior vidya experience. According to Dylan's father, Dino Viale, they found through playtesting that those who didn't play games on the regular did markedly better than those who did.

Dino also says the success of Quacky's Quest, which won Dylan first place at his elementary's science fair, may spur him into a game development career.

And why not? The industry needs innovators like Dylan - people who break through barriers to bring an experience that can be understood and enjoyed, even by those who will never see the screen.

SOURCE: Kotaku

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