Gameplay Journal #8
I played the game A Blind Legend, an action/RPG based entirely on sound. The purpose of the game was to create an immersive experience specifically for visually impaired or blind individuals. It uses binaural technology to build a three dimensional soundscape that the player moves through and interacts with. I think the game’s social message is that everybody should have the chance to play exciting and intense games, even those who can’t play typical games due to vision impairment. It uses simple mechanics to control movement, as well as developing a narrative and story that explains and validates the appearance of the game. There are no visuals in the game, apart from the logo and occasional flashes of color on the screen. Everything is explained and shown through sounds. In the end, an immersive world is created, with characters and a story just as vibrant as any from a typical game. It goes to show that games that only use sound can be just as fun and interesting as any other, while being inclusive of the visually impaired.
I found the game to actually be more immersive than I expected; combat felt much more personal as I had to listen for the enemy’s location before attacking, and I still had a sense of moving through the world as the sounds of waterfalls, talking, and other noises would pass by as I walked. “Games are a cultural medium, and like other cultural media, carry embedded beliefs within their representation systems and structures, whether the designers intend them to or not.” (Flanagan 181). The representation of a blind character, in a game that renders the player blind as well, encourages the belief of inclusivity. It allows people who aren’t blind to experience what the world would be like if they were blind. I think this experience is exactly what the developers wanted to create; a way for people to be educated on something they don’t know about, while still having a fun experience playing the game. As more inclusive and educational media is produced, the culture will shift to also become more accepting and accommodating of disabled or impaired individuals- the goal is to have a society where having a disability doesn’t stop people from experiencing and participating in the same things as anyone else.
Flanagan, Mary, and Helen Nissenbaum. A Game Design Methodology to Incorporate Social Activist Themes. CHI, 2007.