Saturday, December 8, 2012

An Engineer's Perspective #4

Creating Video Games for Other Purposes

Last semester, I took a class that was focused on creating video games to provide therapeutic value to children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We started the semester researching ASD and talking to professionals in the field to gain knowledge and inspiration for ideas for our games. By the end of the semester our class had prototypes of many different games, each targeted at improving different areas. Here is a video that summarizes the class:

Through using the technology of the Microsoft Kinect, my group came up with a game based on the playground activity of jumping rope. Our game "Jump Rope" was made for up to 2 players, with four different game modes for possible play. The object of the game was to properly time a jump corresponding to the jump rope moving on screen. In addition, power-ups would appear on screen and could be grabbed with your hands or feet by extending them in the air accordingly. The power-ups had different actions including additional lives and changing the speed of the rope.

One symptom that troubles children with ASD is sensory overload. This means they may get irritated easily by loud noise, flashing lights, etc. Our game worked to provide desensitization to these types of stimuli. The way we incorporated this into game play was by having a thunderstorm appear every once and a while with flashing lightning on screen and loud noises from rain and thunder. The idea was that we would eventually be able to track whether the player was missing a higher priority of jumps during the thunderstorm (extra stimuli) then during normal play, and track over time there progress.

Another symptom that is common among kids with ASD is having a hard time communicating and working with others. To help provide therapeutic value, we added collaboration and cooperation modes to our 2 player modes of the game to encourage and enforce kids to work together to gain a higher score.

Here are some screen shots of my groups game:

1 comment:

  1. This is really cool. While I'm reading Jane McGonigal's book on how games can make us better people and change the world I see the value that this game has. McGonigal doesn't make things like this but she has a lot of scientific backing and research to her games that give them a lot of legitimacy. However, I like this game because you can record your research on paper over time making it easier to track. The design is also really simple but effective, I'm really impressed.