MoJo zSensor: Work in Progress Video

Very promising early glimpse at Graham Law's MoJo zSensor work at Celtic Magic. One or more of these can be hooked up to a PC (through an Arduino Leandro) seen as various joystick functions. Alternatively it can be used to drive switch accessible devices via on/off relays.

Specs wise from Graham: "less than 0.1 milligrams force is required at maximum sensitivity. Most users would be using higher pressure and the MoJo self-tunes to accommodate higher force."

Huge benefits for those unable to comfortably use conventional switches. This stuff will tie up with JoyToKey too for huge additional powers such as latching and profile switching (example one and example two). Switches offer a lot of benefits over the likes of eye-tracking, face and voice control as there is often no noticable lag between you activating the control and something happening.

Very interested to see how a joystick will be built out of this set-up. Following with great curiosity.


Deep Under the Sky

Deep Under the Sky: Green botanical world. Yellow star and other worldly creatures.

Deep Under the Sky is a beautiful one-switch exploding seed propagation game. Initially, you require three taps: One to launch your seed pod out into a botantical world, Two to trigger a burst of momentum to change your direction. Three to explode into a short-range of scattered seeds.

The game requires very accurate taps to play well, and deeper into the game you'll need to also hold the switch down at key times. The Android version also throws up some Google Play alerts which kills the one-switch mechanic.

None the less, I love the design, and for one-switch players who can time their presses very accurately and quickly, I highly recommend this. If you're short on cash, the developers, Rich Edwards and Colin Northway, are also offering an Art to Play "cashless society" means for obtaining the game. 

Deep Under the Sky: Brown botanical world. Seed pod flying towards a blue mushroom like plant.

Deep Under the Sky: Green botanical world. Blue eyes look down upon the seed pod.

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Push the Button

A Light in Chorus

Recently in one of my four jobs, we used a DJ projection stand with a projector where you could place a couple of bean bags and have interesting and beautiful images wrap around you with high quality sound and a vibration speaker placed under the beanbags.... Just imagining what that might be for people able to explore the world of A Light in Chorus using a single switch, or joystick/switches, or speech, or eye-gaze, or face movements or any combination of that.

A Light in Chorus. Beutiful blue on black particle cum x-ray image of a ghostly stag running through a forest.

A Light in Chorus. Beautiful screen shot of the out skirts of a forest with pylons and hanging filament light bulbs suspended in rows from up high.


MoJo (Modular Joystick) and zSensors: Ultra-Light Controls

MoJo Modular Joystick using zSensors. From Celtic Magic for highly accessible computer and game console controls.

Graham Law of Celtic Magic recently sent me details of a very exciting project he's working on. Ultra-light analogue/digital controls, that can be used as switches, sensors and if combined as a joystick (the MoJo).

What's really exciting about Graham's set-up is making extremely light pressure adjustable controls, that should be reliable and easily repeatable once set-up. Read more here. Lots of possibilities for this with JoyToKey and profile switching to give access to a huge range of controls.

As a side note, I've since discovered that Origin Instrument's Breeze sip/puff interface can be used to act as up to four joystick on/off buttons as standard (although more like two, as it's hard to get your pressure right I found), as well as a diagonal axis. Using JoyToKey you can convert that to act as the X-axis (left-right) or Y-axis (up-down) if you wish. With a Cronus Max/Titan One you can link this to PS3/PS4/XB360/XBone.


iOS8 Switch Access

Another top notch video from Christopher Hills and Alex, explains a few updates for switch access on iOS devices (iPhone and iPad primarily these days).

Something switch access is still no good for is for playing "tap-anywhere" action games such as Jetpack Joyride and Badland. It's also not much good for a lot of potential cause and effect apps, such as Beamz and Garage Band.

Android has little over iOS for accessibility, but it can do this. You can also connect a basic mouse and use that as an alternative access device too, which is hugely useful. For switch use, connect a USB On the Go adapter, connect a switch adapted mouse, position the pointer over a key point on the screen, and then tap / tap-hold to your heart's content. Great for taking photos too.

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Deaf-Blind Gaming

Deaf-Blind computer gaming is something I'm quite ignorant about. I'm not aware of a single deaf-blind gamer who plays computer games. I wonder how many do and of the explored/unexplored possibilities.

I realise that like deafness and blindness, deaf-blindness comes in degrees. Wikipedia's definition is of people with little to no useful hearing and sight. I'm not sure if that's how all Deaf-blind people would define themselves.

One-switch gaming potential can be found in Amateur Radio deaf-blind operators communicating via morse code, receiving information via buzzers they can feel. Games of Hangman, Battleships and Chess could be played in this way. This method of interacting was at least proposed for home computers too, potentially making text games playable. To me this is a curious existential meshing of humans interacting entirely in 0s and 1s with binary computers.

Beyond this, I'm aware of modern day refreshable braille displays, such as the £900 (GBP) Seika Mini Braille. This can open up the modern web to a greater extent and some text based touch typing experiences. But do deaf-blind users play games using this technology? Surely they do.

Mixing these two ways in, there are some definite possibilities for games that are less concerned with language:

• Whack-a-Rat: Someone has a tall pipe, and drops a pretend rat down it. The player has to whack it with a stick when it appears at the bottom. This could be replicated with a count down sequence of buzzes, a randomised pause, then a small buzz as it appears. Your accuracy can be fed back with a score out of five (indicated by one to five longer buzzes). One-switch playable too potentially. Alternatively, you could have a constant buzz, and as soon as the buzz stops you hit SPACE BAR. Your speed could be conveyed in Morse, or you could get a one to five buzz rating for how well you did. Five for best.

• Morse SIMON: Simon says, but with the player having to repeat rhythms, letters, numbers, words or a sentence that builds up depending on the difficulty level selected.

• Matching Pairs: Mix a pool of 13 (or 18) matching pairs of unique sounds which have distinct vibration patterns. Assign them randomly to A-Z and optionally the number keys. The player has to find the matching vibrations by tapping two keys on the keyboard. The more mistakes in finding a match, the lower they score.

Action/Adventure: Hybrid action and text games are a possibility. One thought for a horror/ghost-story element of a game could be... Describe an environment in text and morse, then turn to creating the rhythm of some footsteps that vary in intensity and regularity, maybe some thudding too... the game gives a cue such as "get ready" in text and morse.... When you hear a panic buzz, mash your button to fend off the attacker... Then text descriptions resume. The interface could be as simple as learning Y/N on the keyboard or in morse. Here's some weird-stuff slightly related about communicating with silence at the Enigma Research Group.

Additionally, games that involve real world items, like the football field in the video above, could have many possibilities.

• Guess What?: Could have a real-world box of random objects... press them into a person's hand... they are then asked a question about the item by the computer in morse / braille and have to respond with a Y or N in morse, or press the Y or N on a keyboard. Their score out of ten is buzzed out to them at the end.

I mentioned some of this on the IGDA GASIG forums, and got some fantastic information back from Mathias Nordvall of the Sightlence project, which is an editor for designing haptic signals for computer games. They have created a version of Pong that makes use of two Xbox 360 joypads per player. One pad sits in your lap to indicate the ball's position, the one in the hand indicates the bat position. A full explanation on how to play is given at their site. I'm definitely going to try to find out a bit more on this.

[UPDATE: That didn't take long. See Renée K. Walker's post on life as a Deafblind game player for at least one perspective. Dotris, a braille version of Tetris you can feel via Ian Hamilton. Web-navigation in Morse via Thomas Westin, and a Catch the Car idea from Richard Hayden using sound/vibrations].

Teach yourself the deaf-blind manual alphabet. A to Z.


Kinect: What Microsoft Should Do With Xbox One Kinect

I don't understand Microsoft. The Kinect on Xbox One is incredible technology and should be able to do all of the above. I would love it if you could remap your controls to play any game using anything you see in the videos above.

If there was in-built support/free libraries for this (with the ability to save and load your custom profiles), imagine the fun people could have re-imagining existing games. Imagine the freedom indie and main-stream developers could have in creating exciting new ideas for minimal effort.

• Play an interactive drama using facial expressions alone to make responses (frown, sneer, smile, open mouth in shock).

• Head movements to run, smile to shoot in games (SpecialEffect have done this already using a PC Kinect set-up linked to an Xbox to play FIFA. People loved it at the Insomnia festival).

• Make Physio/Fitness fun using affordable technology and your game/activity of choice.

• Raise eye-brow Roger Moore style to play a one-switch game (I did this yesterday to play one-switch Dragon's Lair).

• Pout to take a selfie (seems popular, but not with me!).

But always make the game playable with a standard Joypad and you've got the best of both worlds. Come on Microsoft! So much unrealised potential. And whilst you're at it, more Happy Action Theatre, please.

Feel the same? You can contact Microsoft's accessibility teams here: UK Disability Answer Desk and perhaps most effectively at their Xbox One Accessibility info page.

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SEGA え~でる すなば (Kinetic Sand)

Ah, SEGA have still got it in them to surprise. This looks like massive fun. Wonder if it will make its way out of Japan. Hope so.


The Trouble - Pogo


In a Big Country

Hope they stay. Understand if they go....

Call to UK Game Developers: TIGA Awards Accessibility Category

Image of a white Citroen car smashing through a car-park barrier. Above reads TIGA Games Industry Awards 2014. A Game Accessibility Information symbol is below, similar to the General Symbol of Accessibility but of a hybrid wheelchair user and game pad controller.

At the time of writing, UK game makers have just three days to submit to the TIGA Games Industry Awards 2014 for Accessibility.

If you've written a game released between the 5th of November 2013 and the 5th of November 2014 with links to the UK, and it's before the 19th of September 2014, you can apply.

TIGA are looking to celebrate games that remove some of the barriers that disable people. If your game has something that makes play significantly more accessible such as a colour-blind mode, easy play options, a simple control scheme (or option for such) and so on, then your game is eligible. See for more ideas and guidance.

For the Accessibility category, all you need do is give an explanatory paragraph or two on the feature/s that make your game a good fit. This is such an important area for games to improve in, maybe your game can show others 
how barriers can be broken down.

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It's Good But It's Not Right...


"Simulation of a visual impairment may lead to a better under- standing of how individuals with visual impairments perceive the world around them. We present a simulation tool (SIMVIZ) that mounts a wide angle camera on a head-mounted display to create a see-through stereoscopic display that simulates various types and levels of visual impairments. SIMVIZ enables quick accessibility inspections during iterative software development". Brilliant! More simulation devices for replicating barriers here.

Via: Eelke Folmer's YouTube channel

Guitar Machines

I've been researching some accessible switch music methods, partly using JoyToKey and the amazing BEAMZ for PC. Massively powerful, and sounds amazing. Also mulling over Robotar, which is brilliant, and then I stumbled upon this older guy with his incredible mechanical guitar machine.




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