Hearing about a blind gamer would remind some of us of the rock opera "Tommy." But these aren't pinball players; they're computer gamers, and they often play online. They are part of a growing community of audio gamers who enjoy everything from card and puzzle games to first-person space-themed shooters. And some of them could even take you down.
Most first person shooters and many other online games are a matter of eye-hand coordination and fast reflexes. Players need to see the threat and respond, and while the music and sound effects in a game can enhance the experience (indeed, at least one symphony orchestra performed a concert completely based on music from various video games), they usually arenít central to it. No gamer in his right mind would close his eyes while shooting or play a game blindfolded, right?
Believe it or not, while most sighted gamers would never play with their eyes closed, there is a growing group of blind gamers who are proving that eyesight may not be instrumental to taking down digital foes. You may have heard about Brice Mellon, a teenager from Lincoln, Nebraska who plays video games so well he even managed to play Mortal Kombat against its creator and win. But Brice is just the smallest tip of the iceberg.
Take Michael Feir. He founded Audessey Gaming Magazine back in 1996. Itís a quarterly gaming magazine specifically for blind gamers, and available online (though the most recent issue is from the first quarter of 2005). A visit to the website does a lot to confirm that yes, this really is for blind (as opposed to just visually impaired) gamers; the interface is utterly simple. The first page mainly contains a list that links to all the back issues. Clicking on a link brings up the magazine in question Ė all on one screen, simple text only. In short, it contains nothing that a text reader might trip over.
There are now a wide range of games that cater to the blind gamer. These are not only simpler, puzzle-based games either. They represent almost as many genres as the ones designed for sighted players, including multiplayer role-playing games, action adventure titles, driving games, science fiction style games and yes, puzzle-related games as well.
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