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Perception: An Accessible Videogame in Development!

 Perception

As a bit of a gaming enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for exciting developments in the world of gaming technology and virtual reality. This week, I found a new game on Kickstarter called Perception that is not only designed for blind and visually impaired people – but also where the protagonist is actually blind herself. This follows on from my playthrough of the demo of “A Blind Legend” so I thought it would be interesting to have a look at this game and find out what it will be about.

First Off – The Background 

The charity that has come up with this idea is named World Access for the Blind, Based in the USA, it’s a non-profit organisation designed to give blind people across the world the power of seeing through using their hearing. The charity wants people to ‘discover a new way of “seeing” – through sound.’ The charity has helped nearly 10,000 students in almost 40 different countries, and most of the team behind the charity are blind themselves.

They teach people to use sound and touch in order to access the world – using techniques such as echolocation training, where a series of ‘clicks’ are used by the person. Sound waves then bounce off the object and into the person’s ear. By being trained to hear different sound frequencies, a blind or visually impaired person can learn to identify where certain objects are – and sometimes even what they are! I’ve been told by doctors that I use this technique to detect light and shadows without even knowing it – pretty cool! It’s important to explain how this technique works, as the main character in Perception uses this technique herself. Now I’ve explained the background, let’s get onto the game! 

The Concept 

The idea behind Perception is relatively straightforward – you play as Cassie, the blind heroine, who uses her Smartphone, cane and echolocation techniques to explore a haunted mansion at Echo Bluff estate. It’s described on Kickstarter as a ‘first person narrative horror adventure”. Brilliant! First person stories are my favourite type of game!

Cassie uses her ‘extraordinary hearing and razor sharp wit’ to unravel the mystery of the estate which she sees in her dreams. After researching for some time, Cassie comes across Echo Bluff – and it’s scarier than her nightmares! A ghostly Presence has haunted the house, terrifying its inhabitants for centuries. It’s now on the lookout for Cassie. She either needs to solve the mysteries or fall victim to the Presence’s wrath. Sounds abit like dealing with my bank balance!

Graphics and Game Design 

I’ve watched the trailers for Perception on the Kickstarter website and I have to say, the graphics look fantastic and I’m very impressed. The main colours used for the aesthetic design of the game are black, blue, silver, white and grey. These colours work really well not only for the character and spooky nature of Echo Bluff, but also for those players like me who have some useful vision. For once in my life I can see everything in the game pretty clearly because of these colour combinations and the contrast. Making out objects and where they are has always been a struggle for me when I’ve played conventional video games before.

Cassie’s voice is very well done too  -she sounds like a grown woman. With other video games I’ve come across, women can all too often sound as though they’re children and this has annoyed me before! I haven’t actually seen what the character of Cassie looks like, but then with it being a first person narrative game, I wonder if you ever get to at all. I would be curious to know what she might look like, and if you never get to see her, that’s the only negative I’d have about gameplay design. 

The rest of the sound design, from the trailers anyway, seem phenomenal. It really sets you up for the haunted manor house location and you feel as though you’re actually there. The sounds of dripping taps, clanking pipes and creaking doors-  which are all very well done and easily discernible – definitely add to the fear factor within the game, making it just as scary for a visually impaired person as someone who is sighted. I’ve watched horror films with friends before and because I can’t see what’s happening – or Audio Description tells me what;s going to happen anyway – I don’t always get the full effect of the fear. With this game, it’s really cool to know that I’ll be on an even keel with sighted players when it comes to being suitably spooked! 

Three, Two One… Gameplay! 

I haven’t been able to play the actual game (yet!) but the Kickstarter website has given us plenty of detail as to what playing the game will involve. As Cassie, you use her wit, her cane and her Smartphone to look for clues, finding your way through the house using echolocation. But the house and its deadly Presence go a long way in trying to ensure Cassie never uncovers its deadly secrets. 

Described as a ‘deadly game of cat and mouse’ between Cassie and the Presence which is reluctant to allow her to leave, you must weigh up the risk of using sound to discover information – with not being caught by the Presence itself. If you’re spotted, your only hope is to leg it, hide – and hope it doesn’t find you! Playing as Cassie, you can also throw objects and create ‘sound bombs’ to distract your enemies, and use her Smartphone to detect the evidence that is left behind. As you put the pieces of the jigsaw together, you find yourself jumping back in time, with the feel and look of the house changing to suit each era. The house and the figures that live there change significantly, adding to the spooky atmosphere during gameplay. Entire wings and buildings come and go with your relationship to the space – I think it’s pretty cool to have a haunted house that interacts as you play. It’s your job as Cassie to figure out right from wrong once you’ve found the source of evil for each era. With every new chapter, there are brand new questions waiting to be answered. 

My Verdict 

I’m really excited about this new development in gaming for blind and visually impaired people. The storyline, graphics and sound design, and most importantly gameplay, sound amazing and I’m itching to try the game out. Not only is there a game, there’s also merchandise like T-shirts and limited edition game packages on the Kickstarter website. Horror films are often difficult for me to access and find scary, as it’s difficult for me to see what’s going on, so I’m really pleased that this is a horror story game. I plan on trying it out when it becomes more readily available and I’m looking forward to getting properly involved with the fear factor. All together now: Whoo! 

Links 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/perceptiongame/perception-3 

https://www.worldacessfortheblind.org 

What’s your experience of accessible gaming? Join in the conversation by commenting below. 

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