In preparation for telling the world about Blindfold Racer, we’ve created a website that briefly describes the game and some of the ways it is being used.
One of the web pages is devoted just to selfies of our fans. We’ve already had a number of people email their selfie to us. If you’ve played the game, please have a friend take a photo of you playing, and email it to marty (at) kidfriendlysoftware (dot) com.
Another page, still under development, is for a private club leaderboard. We’ll let you create your own club and post game scores of you and your friends.
The website is BlindfoldRacer.com
We published the first “decent” release of Blindfold Racer a few days ago, and I asked a friend to help get the word out about it.
Kate contacted several organizations that provide services or products visually impaired people, and one of the first – Stephen Guerra of the National Beep Baseball Association – really liked the game. He is active on AppleVis (website devoted to Apple products for blind and low-vision users), and he posted Blindfold Racer on AppleVis.
Within a few days, we had hundreds of downloads of the Blindfold Racer, with lots of great suggestions and advice from blind people who tried out the game. We replied to each suggestion, and we’ll be releasing an update within a few days.
One of the gamers did a podcast review of Blindfold Racer, and for a few days it was the most downloaded app on AppleVis.
I was really confused why blind teens had no problem understanding the tutorial, and sighted adults would get confused.
I added more pauses (“tap the screen to continue”) between each tutorial instruction, or more tried rephrasing the sentence, but they just didn’t understand. Then a teacher explained to me how adults lose their ability to listen and comprehend without seeing something to reinforce what they are learning. Blind people can’t rely on their sight, so their auditory attention skills are far superior.
To make the game playable for sighted people as well, I added more pictures to the tutorial showing them what to do, and display helpful hints on the screen while they are playing the game. It has no effect on game playing, but it makes the game more fun for sighted people.
For example, when you start playing level 1, the game displays “This game is easier if you close your eyes”, and when the level is over, it displays their results and score (in addition to speaking it to them).
These changes were so effective, that we displayed messages to supplement almost everything that was spoken.
The layout of the screen was very simple so that a visually impaired person can use it without voice-over. Tap in the upper left corner for help, upper right corner for settings, lower left corner to go back one level and lower right cover to go up one level.
We used primitive ugly icons on the four corners of the screen, and since our primary audience (visually impaired people) couldn’t see the screen, we thought that was sufficient.
The Head of The Cushman School, Arvi Balsiero, and I spoke about developing a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum around the building of Blindfold Racer.
During the initial three months of app development, we investigated so many issues that are at the core of the STEM/STEAM concept: solving real-world problems to teach science, technology, engineering and math:
- How does a blind person navigate the world?
- How can you communicate with a device without using your eyes?
- How do you teach (the rules of a game) and fascinate the game player at the same time?
- How do you test to determine if a game player has learned anything
- How does echolocation relate to navigation?
- What is important in designing a level of this game?
- What are the limitations of voice recognition and speed-to-text?
- What is “the cloud” that all mobile devices now rely on?
- What are the attributes of an “accessible” app?
- What do sighted people rely on that we don’t even realize?
- Why is inertia important in driving a car?
- What are design tradeoffs and how do you make them?
- How are products tested?
- What is a product release cycle?
- How do you tell people about a product?
- What role does product-related artwork serve?
I condensed many of these topics into STEAM classes for 4th through 8th grade, and taught the class for 45 to 90 minutes. Since the students were allowed to play Blindfold Racer (before it was available) at the end of the class, students were highly motivated to learn. Many of them came up with great suggestions for levels.
If you are interested in using Blindfold Racer as part of a STEM/STEAM curriculum, please contact me.