Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 21st 2014 Contents B28
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, August 21, 2014
Creating a video game bereft of
any actual video might seem like
an unusual idea.
But the concept is being adopted
by a growing number of games
designers, to help make the industry
more accessible to blind and visu-
"Video-less" games use a pro-
duction technique known as bin-
aural recording to construct an
immersive, audio-only world.
The technique involves fitting a
dummy with tiny condenser micro-
phones that mimic the way our
ears naturally hear sound. Each
scene in the game is recorded using
this method and the result is a more
realistic, three-dimensional expe-
As there are no graphics, players
must rely on their aural senses to
navigate through levels.
The latest game in this genre has
just been launched by a team of
creative developers in France. They
used a crowdfunding campaign to
raise more than 40,000 euros to
turn their demo into a functioning
"It s such an exciting and cool
project," Nordine Ghachi said.
The creative technologist is part
of a team of three at Dowino studios
in Lyon, who came up with the
Blind Legend game for handheld
"We wanted to put blind and
disabled gamers in the same field
of quality as sighted gamers. That
was our main aim. That was our
main challenge," he said.
"Pierre-Alain Gagne, the chief
executive of Dowino, came up with
the idea of the crowdfunding cam-
paign and managed it for months.
Jerome Cattenot is our art director
and he made the whole game and
all its universe so appealing."
Blind Legend follows the story
of a knight, who has lost his eye-
sight and journeys through a forest
to free his wife from her violent
The intuitive game-play makes
it completely immersive. The main
character s movements are con-
trolled using a touch screen, so
players move their feet or their
sword through simple swiping
motions on their phone. The screen
remains dark at all times.
"You should definitely wear
headphones to get the full benefits.
You can hear what s happening all
around you," said Nordine.
"The noises of the forest, the
birds flying above and the river
flowing. You hear these sounds,
and that information helps the
gamer locate themselves in that
"The hero is helped by his
daughter. You liaise with her and
follow her. You use your imagination
to make your own effects."
It has been tested on several
gamers with little or no eyesight,
and has garnered support from
charity organisations like the
Valentin Haüy Association.
It s not the first time binaural
technology has been used in this
In 2010 British games studio
Somethin Else, launched Papa San-
gre---an audio-driven thriller, which
does not have any graphics in the
game. It proved to be extremely
popular, particularly with blind
gamers, and the company went on
to release a number of follow-ups.
Robin Spinks, from the Royal
National Institute of Blind People,
said the development of such games
tapped into a "huge market." There
are two million blind and partial-
ly-sighted people in the UK---and
285 million worldwide.
"This type of gaming experience
removes the barriers blind and par-
tially sighted people encounter every
day," he said.
A lack of inclusivity is a problem
Nathan Edge is very familiar with.
The 20-year-old gamer from
Mansfield in the Midlands in Eng-
land, had been visually impaired
since childhood, but lost his eyesight
entirely in recent weeks.
He told the BBC: "It can be a
very isolating world sometimes.
You want to do the things other
people are doing and playing. It
gives you something to talk about
with your friends.
"I can t play any of the text-
based video games I played before.
I ve been very frustrated trying to
find games I can use."
Blind Legend will be free to
download---in either French or Eng-
lish---on iTunes next year. (BBC)
'Video-less' 3D games
developed for blind players
The team behind the project, from left, Pierre-Alain Gagne, Jerome Cattenot and Nordine Ghachi.
WHAT IS BINAURAL TECHNOLOGY?
• It's a sound production technique that mimics the natural
hearing cues created by our ears
• It captures sound using two microphones to record "3D"
• Binaural sound itself is not a new idea---a rudimentary form
of binaural stereo dates back to 1881.
• The most famous use of the technology was the Barber's
Haircut video, created by audio software developer QSound
Labs in 1996.
Game art for Blind Legend
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