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October 3, 2013

University of Montevallo students design games for the physically disabled

While gaming is a fast-growing pastime worldwide, accessibility is a fast-growing concern for those with physical disabilities. Traditional controller input is not an option for gamers without the use of their hands.

When GameCareerGuide, a nationally recognized website for game design, recently issued their Design Challenge calling for ideas for hands-free games and controllers, four University of Montevallo students in UM’s Game Studies and Design program answered the call, and all four submissions were recognized as “best entries.”

Amy George of Hoover created Home, an exploratory video game for a single player who tries to guide a pollen mote from one city to another by controlling wind gusts. The controller is a chair-like platform that operates by body movement.

Shaunie Groover of Gordo designed Nose Knows! The game of smells and clues. Equipment includes an electronic game board with foot pedals and a removable tablet apparatus that responds to voice commands or touch commands. The object of the game is to identify words by using scent clues.

Holden Chase Moss of Scottsboro created War Commander, a real-time strategy game placing the player in command of an army, able to control all movements of his troops by voice command. It delivers a game that is not only accessible by players with physical challenges, but also more realistic.

Garrett Roth of Helena designed the Footstick, a device to control fighting games by using the feet. The peripheral device would come with a basic fighting game to introduce the player to the concept of foot control and hone his or her skills before moving into more complicated games.

Cathlena Martin, coordinator of UM’s Game Studies and Design Program and director of the Honors Program, said, “I am very glad our students had the opportunity to express their game design creativity in a way that could potentially aid those that might benefit from this type of technology.”

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