Chapter 5: Conclusion
'Drive' with a large (blind) audience and the overall opinion was
that 'Drive' is an exciting and accessible game. The blind users
could handle the game just as good as the seeing users. In general,
we discovered that blind users are capable of reaching higher scores
than seeing users. This shows 'Drive' is a game in which the blind
gamer is not handicapped. Several seeing users joked they felt handicapped
themselves, because they were used to receiving visual feedback.
We based 'Drive'
on the essence of a racing game. Throughout the concept-phase, we
tried to sonify every element of this essence. This proved to be
quite fruitful because once we laid down the first copy of the concept
both the accessibility-factor and the fun-factor became clear. This
shows that 'Drive' is a good example of a design-process purely
based on sound, one of the aims of the project. It also illustrates
that accessible does not mean 'an adapted original' but 'a re-designed
original based on the essence'.
During our research
phase, we drew attention to the relationship between sound and emotion
in a game environment. We found out that a game doesn't generate
real emotions but a reflection of these emotions. We defined this
reflection as immersion. This is quite important for the game experience,
especially for an audiogame. We decided to pay attention to immersion
and the meta-game aspect so we made an intro, menu, website, downloadable
audiotracks and a highscore-system.
We wanted to
find out how one can design for the blind computer user. Prior to
this project, we had already researched the needs and characteristics
of this user group. We avoided terminology of the visual domain
and eliminated all aspects of visual conceptualization. Instead,
we used terminology that fits the perceptive world of the blind.
We learned that the blind children prefer racing games and shooters
above all and that they would like an exciting game that is equally
challenging for blind users as well as seeing players. We also learned
that competition is highly important between players and that dynamic
game-elements like levels and score should be applied.
The blind users indicated that they would rather have a real voice
than the synthesized voice they are used to hear all day when using
the computer. We used recorded voices to give the game more depth
and to add variety in the experience of using the computer.
The balance between functional sound and figurative sound is very
important. In 'Drive', we kept a clear balance between these two.
Our first tests gave us the idea of force-focusing (using obstruction
sounds to break the concentration of the player) to make a game
more difficult to play. We also found out that sometimes the content
of a specific sound is responsible for the difficulty of the game.
Parameters for this remain undiscovered; we would like to explore
this issue in a future project.
We applied adaptive music to create a more dynamic environment.
This, together with the voice recordings, the intro, the website
and the menu all contribute to the immersion and the metagaming.
All this provided
us with a better view on how one can design for the blind community.
Not only games, but other projects based on sounds as well.