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LSBU and Lifelites are changing lives through games

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At the foot of London South Bank University’s accessibility ramp James and Hema from our charity Lifelites outline the Enable Gaming project.

Lifelites, enabled by the connections and funding provided by GamesAid, are collaborating with the LSBU to train future game designers on accessibility and inclusivity in gaming.

Siobhan Thomas is the course leader and shining enthusiast for body-oriented game design. She invites us into the game design department where the students fidget excitedly behind their laptops. Over seven intense weeks they have been labouring over their games, she tells us. They have visited hospices and got given seminars by accessibility experts on their mission to design and develop a game for Lifelites.

Among the students sits Ravi. Every week for the past two months he has been speeding up the accessibility ramp in his wheelchair to test the games. He now rests, patiently smiling, as the students set up the first game.

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A stampede of dinosaurs chase us on screen. We are travelling backwards in the gorge between two cliffs. Ravi, uses his eyes to sway a gun side to side and shoot down the raging dinosaurs before they get to him. It’s not just his eyes that Ravi can use to play the game. He can also use a banana or slap two coins together. The game is called Dinosaur Insurrection and it was created and tailored for Mithun, one of their playtesters, the students tell us. They asked Mithun what he would like in a video game. “Dinosaurs, cars, explosions and a gun,” was his reply.

It was the student’s first time working with inclusivity in design: an eye-opener that taught them to make games beyond the common player and in fact tailor it to a particular client. The result was an action packed, personal game that had players grinning.

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The second game was tonally very different. Going by the name of Bass Tower, a ball rolled on a rotating platform that slowly descended. By timing the punching of a button you could jump onto higher platforms and prevent the ball from falling down the bottom of the screen. The whole classroom cheered Ravi on while he made tight escapes and successful jumps through the timed levels. Everyone became critically involved and we even jumped in to try out those curious controls.

Photo via @Lifelites.

Photo via @Lifelites.

The Enable Gaming project is a game changer. In the words of the students, it shone a new light on the way they think about games and made a big difference on how they will approach game design in the future. Working closely with disabled players and toying with the Eyegaze, Makey Makey and even the muscle interface, Myo, was not just fun but a valuable experience.

With the help of Siobhan and Lifelites, the students are looking at polishing the games and releasing them at hospices across the UK.

The Enable Gaming project is funded with the money GamesAid has awarded Lifelites and the connections it has provided to the charity. Help continue to support accessibility and inclusivity in gaming by becoming a member of GamesAid or text GAID16 £5 to 70070 to donate £5.