Games for the Visually Impaired

A student project explores a niche of the games market, for a class taught by Infocom legend Brian Moriarty.

The video game industry has expanded rapidly in recent years, growing from a 9.5 billion dollar industry in 2007 to a 25.1 billion dollar industry in 2010. This growth is due to the common interest that almost all Americans now hold in games, as a seventy-two percent of all americans play video games on a regular basis (ESA). However, because games rely heavily on impressive graphics and are primarily an immersive visual experience, very few games are made with the blind or the visually impaired in mind.

In the 1970s when video games first emerged, it was virtually impossible to create a game that did not involve some sort of visuals. This is mainly due to a lack of technology, as almost all computers, games, and electronic speakers and displays could only output crude, pixilated visuals and rough, synthesized sound. However, technology has steadily improved to the point where games that do not need visuals are a possibility.

Games for the visually impaired are an untapped industry, especially with the technology that exists today. By conducting interviews with the visually impaired we discovered what types of games the visual impaired prefer, what they would enjoy to play, and what ideas they have for developing these games. —Creating Video Games for the Visually Impaired, Russo, Sacks & Vandal (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)