Welcome to the Aidis Trust blog. Here you’ll find our posts on assistive technology that are meant to inform and encourage discussion. Feel free to join in!

Ready, Set, Game! Gaming in the Aidis Office

dirt showdown“Weeeeeeeeeeee!”

On Tuesday, I went to the Aidis office in Manchester to try out some gaming. I wanted to test the Oculus Rift and a steering wheel used for driving games, to see how accessible they were to me – and how useful I thought they would be to others with disabilities. I have no vision in my left eye and about 10% vision in my right, so playing video games has always been challenging!  I’m going to review the games I played using the equipment – whether they were easy to access and most importantly – fun! 

First off – the Steering Wheel 

There were a few games that I tried out with this. The steering wheel itself I found easy to use (Julian guided me and showed me which pedals to push and how to hold the steering wheel first, and I liked the look of it!).

The first games I played was Assetto Corsa, a driving game where you race around a track against yourself. This, I have to admit, was a bit of a nightmare first performance! I found it hard to work out how hard to push the accelerator pedal and kept going flying off the track! Also, once I’d worked out how much pressure to apply with the pedal, I found it difficult to see the track (even with the game projected onto a huge screen) and where I was going – we did try a guide line in green which was one of the settings on the game but I found it difficult to anticipate turns in the road because of my vision. So this game wasn’t great for accessibility, but it might be good for someone with a bit more vision. 

Next, I played Dirt 3, which was similar to the game I’d tried before. I found this easier because for some reason, the tactile feedback from the steering wheel was better on this game, and I’d finally worked out how much pressure to apply on the accelerator pedal!I found it relatively easy to play (apart from that in order to reverse, you have to break beforehand which I found difficult), but still had a little difficulty following the road because of my eyesight. However, I think as with anything, I would get better with practice.  I found this game to be more accessible than the one I’d played before it. 

The final game I played using the steering wheel was definitely the best! Dirt Showdown is a game where you’re encouraged to drive around Battersea power station (no, NOT the furry cats and dogs home – no animals were harmed!) – using ramps, bashing into obstacles, and collecting little tokens that look like cars. I found this a lot easier and more fun to play. The feedback form the steering wheel was great, the sound was fantastic. I got loads of air on a few ramps and managed to collect one of the car tokens. All in all – success! 

Playing driving games in general really appeals to me because I can’t drive a real car, so playing driving games is the next best thing! I find racing games difficult to play and follow though, so something like Dirt Showdown where you get points for doing stunts in the car, but can drive around freely, is the best option for me. I love these sorts of games. 

The Oculus Rift 

The idea of the Oculus Rift appealed to me straight away. Because of my vision, I often find it hard to use control pads, joysticks, etc., as I often cannot see the buttons and even if I learn where they are, I cannot necessarily see what the instructions are on the screen to be able to press them at the right times. I love the fact that when you have it on, it’s a 360 degree virtual reality headset – I almost forgot that I was in the Aidis office a few times!  So the Oculus Rift seemed like a good solution and I played quite a few games with it. 

The first game I played was World of Diving – an underwater diving game where you explore the seabed. Being a lover of mermaids, I loved playing this game! There was a shipwreck to explore which I really enjoyed doing  – you could go right inside the wreck itself. There were some massive manta rays and there were sharks too. The movements I had to make to play the game with the Oculus Rift on were straightforward – I just had to move my head in various positions which was much easier for me to do than using a controller. My one complaint was that I didn’t quite manage to find Nemo! 

No Limits 2 is a roller coaster simulator game. It can make some people feel disorientated but I absolutely loved it. I ‘rode’ several different rides on it, from the very tame to the devilishly scary! I really enjoyed it – my stomach dropped a few times! With this game, you don’t have to move your head at all – you just have to be able to see where the ride is going. 

Don’t Let Go was a really scary one! You put your fingers on the ‘cntrl’ keys on a  computer and the game tries to make you let go of the keys. This may sound easy – it isn’t! It starts off with lots of wasps swarming around you – I didn’t find this too difficult. But when a Tyrannosaurus Rex came into the room a few minutes later, I was finished and couldn’t play any more! A good game for thrill seekers – just not for me as I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat! This game is good for accessibility as all you had to do was keep two fingers on the keyboard. 

The final game I played (more of an educational experience really) was Titans of Space where you’re taken on a tour of Space and the planets. I found this quite fun for the first five minutes – but after that, the music gets a little repetitive and personally it wasn’t interactive enough for me – although it’s more of an educational tool than a game, I would’ve liked to have had a little more of an interactive experience. You were just sitting there pressing the space bar to move the ‘tour’ along. This was probably my least favourite, although Saturn’s rings did look lovely! 🙂 

The Top 2 

Now it’s time for my Top 2 Games! On the steering wheel it has to be Dirt ShowdownI really enjoyed the fact that you had free reign of the space so it didn’t matter as much if you crashed the car! I also loved the fact that there were stunts that could be performed by cars on ramps and other obstacles. 

On the  Oculus Rift I loved World of Diving. Luckily my colour vision is great and so I was able to appreciate the stunning colours and visual effects – and sounds – of the game. My favourite bit of this game was the shipwreck that you could go inside  -it felt very magical and mysterious. Nest time though, I still really want to find Nemo! 

Overall, I found the Oculus Rift to be a brilliant alternative to using a controller – something which, because of my vision, I’ve always found slightly difficult to do. I really enjoyed playing the games with it and found gaming overall to be a much more fulfilling experience with the headgear on. It looks pretty cool too! I’m hoping that the Oculus Rift will go from strength to strength. Who knows? I might even own one one day – I’d love that! 

What’s your experience of gaming? Tell us in the comments below! 

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