AppleVis interview: Why did you create Blindfold Racer?

I would like to thank Thomas Domville (of AppleVis), Michael Hansen (of AppleVis) and Ken Downey (of Blind Labyrinth) for spending the time to interview me on Monday of this week.

Click here to listen to the interview.

While this was not the first time I’ve told the story – starting from why I created an App Club for 4th-7th graders to build WishToList, and how that evolved into teaching an elective on programming (using the Alice system designed at Carnegie-Mellon) at The Cushman Middle School, which lead to building Blindfold Racer, and why an app like Blindfold Racer is a great example of a STEM/STEAM lesson.

Almost all of my experience with Blindfold Racer gamers has been watching people play it, and then listening to their comments. This was one of the first times I talked with people who didn’t know me at all, and they told me how much they enjoyed the game that the students & I built. It’s very rewarding to hear how our efforts are touching people.

What I’ve started to notice is that a community – albeit small – is forming around the game. At the beginning, it was a handful of students at the grade school. We ran the app club for about 9 months, so between students who participated from the beginning to those that would join for just 6 weeks, we had about 15 students contribute their ideas. Then we got more ideas from teens at the Lighthouse for the Blind Miami, and Lighthouse Broward – about 10 more people. Some more suggestions came from 5 high school students (who volunteer at the Lighthouse). Then we got feedback from some visually impaired veterans at the VA Med Center, which added a few more people.

I taught a STEM class on how we built the app to 4th to 8th grades at The Cushman School, and another 10 or so students came up with ideas for new levels. Each sighted adult I tested it prior to the official with had a suggestion (about 10), so prior to its launch, about 50 people contributed their creativity.

Since its debut on AppleVis, I’ve received comments or lengthy emails from another 15 visually impaired gamers, so that means Blindfold Racer is built on combined effort of 65 contributors.

Going forward, I hope to get at least one good suggestion from each new player.