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SPD News - Newsletter
January 2006

Enabled Cyber Gaming

The Enabled Cyber Games (ECG) was launched at the 2005 World Cyber Games Grand Final at Suntec City. A collaboration with Samsung, ECG showcases the use of assistive technology in mainstream cyber gaming to promote an inclusive society as well as to advocate universal design of technology products and accessories. Zen Koh, Head of SPD’s AT Community Research Network, explains.

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Amanda Mok, one of SPD’s clients playing with members of the public at the ECG event supported by Samsung.


People with physical disabilities often lack opportunities to participate in popular mainstream cyber gaming activities due to their physical limitations. These limitations can be addressed through Enabled Cyber Games (ECG).

This is an initiative which hinges on the belief that with appropriate technology, equipment required for a great gaming experience can be provided for people with physical disabilities.

Assistive Technology (AT) Solutions

Some disabilities can hamper a person’s ability to effectively engage in cyber gaming. However, technology can be a great leveller in gaming for people with visual, hearing, mobility and cognitive disabilities.

img2
Numerical pads added to the PC enable better control
for some people with physical disabilities.

img3
Modifications made to Xbox controllers make it easier
to access trigger buttons.

img4
Database management trainee Sila being fitted with
an appropriate gaming device to prepare her for
cyber gaming.

Alternative Pointing Devices

Alternative pointing devices allow individuals to control their computers through means other than a standard pointing device. Examples include head and eye-tracking systems, specialized joysticks or gloves, and even exotic systems such as the Cyberlink controller that uses a combination of body, eye and brain signals for control. These systems can be used in conjunction with on-screen keyboards. A switch is normally used to do the equivalent of a mouse click. Some of these systems allow you to move the mouse cursor very quickly but not very accurately while other systems allow you to move a cursor very accurately but slowly.

On-Screen Keyboards

Useful for those unable to use a standard keyboard, the on-screen keyboard uses a pointing method such as pointing devices, switches or Morse code input systems. It is usually difficult to perform complicated key sequences quickly using an on-screen keyboard, so keyboard intensive games can be very hard if not impossible to play using this type of technology.

Speech Recognition

People with mobility impairments primarily use speech recognition programs. These utilities enable them to control computers with their voice instead of a mouse or keyboard. Speech recognition can be used for text entry, mapping commands to keyboard macros with a system like Game Commander, and verbally to position a mouse cursor.


Screen Readers

These utilities are primarily useful for people who are visually-impaired, making on-screen information available as synthesized speech or a refreshable Braille display. They can only translate text-based information and are often used with text intensive programs such as web browsers, email, and document viewers.

Screen Magnifiers

This type of software helps people with low vision by allowing them to zoom in or enlarge portions of the computer screen so they are easier to see. This works well with applications that tend to display static data such as text or diagrams. Screen magnifiers may have problems coping with game displays that are animation intensive or use full-screen modes.

Under the ECG initiative, modifications were made to some devices to enable people with physical disabilities to engage in cyber gaming. For the PC, small numerical pads were added to enable easy access to control keys. Specialised Xbox controllers were also created with alternative options of left and right trigger buttons placed on top of the control. Head and foot switches were connected to the controls to provide the gamer with the option to tap on them.

At SPD, the efforts are made with the larger objective of exploring the rehabilitation of people with physical disabilities through gaming. It has been recognized that disabled people can pick up skills such as typing and motor coordination through control of the mouse and eye-hand movements. With more focus on this area, including encouraging universal designs of equipment, more can be done for people with physical disabilities.

For now, the research will focus on finding out the varying needs of different disabilities so that more specialised controls can be created for the benefit of people with disabilities.

Enabled Cyber Games @ World Cyber Games 2005 Grand Finals

The launch of Enabled Cyber Game (ECG), a partnership with Samsung, had more than 20 SPD clients participating at the Grand Finals of World Cyber Games 2005 held in Singapore this year. Many experienced the joy of mainstream cyber gaming for the very first time.

With only a short time in training, the clients held their own and put up a good show against the public at the event.

The ECG aims to be an annual event for people with physical disabilities to encourage an inclusive society through social integration of disabled and non-disabled people in mainstream activities.

 

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