Chaos at the arcade

September 4, 2011



A story about Schuyler’s class trip caught my attention.

This story happened to be posted the day after I went to a place similar to the one described* (skee ball, laser tag, mini-golf, etc.) so  I could really visualize it. I spent most of the evening considering how such places could be accessed. It strikes me that the games themselves are highly structured, but the environment as a whole was open and chaotic.

No matter how much communication we give kids, it seems like these environments are not easy nuts to crack. Part of me is thinking of ways to structure to force more interaction (maybe teams see who gets the most tickets or something, then the problem of assigning teams…). The other part of me wonders if forcing it is ultimately counterproductive—that the self-directedness is the mission here and to reduce that

arcadeQuestions: Can you create a meta-game structure in a free-play environment that encourages more interaction for kids who don’t do well in unstructured social environments without the neurotypical kids pushing back against it or squashing the developmental benefits of the chaos?


* It is really weird that this was posted the day after my friend suggested impulsively, “Let’s go play skee ball.”

One-button games

March 9, 2011

Here is a new game for iOS (you know, the platform that Proloquo2Go runs on):

It’s called Tiny Wings

I love the metaphor of having a little, sort-of impaired bird overcoming its limitations and flying with the assistance of the environment and the player.

Some other one-button games:

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been using Atlas Games’s Once Upon a Time in my speech-language therapy for years.

Once Upon a Time, the card game

Every player is dealt cards with story elements (see also, Burke’s Dramatistic Pentad for an arrangement of these cards by story function), as well as an ending card. Players narrate a story that is constrained by the cards that were randomly dealt to their hand, and win the game by playing their ending (which has to make sense in the context of what has come before).

It would be easy, except that players take turns constructing the story and everyone has different endings they are trying to achieve.

I love this game for a number of reasons. It’s great for teaching story grammar (obviously), but there is also a strong executive function element to it in that you have to plan your moves ahead if your ending is going to make sense. Lately, one of my students has been using it to elicit connected speech from a young client who is working on generalizing speech artic. therapy into conversation. You have to talk a lot to play this game.

Here are some other game-based therapy activities:

Read the rest of this entry »

Hans Smith

January 30, 2011

Kotaku reports on Hans Smith, the virtual athlete who is responsible for the Disabled Virtual Athlete Mode in MLB 11 The Show.

Hans Smith

Hans Smith, virtual athlete

Accessible Video Games

January 29, 2011

I’m so happy that some game developers are thinking about making their controls and gameplay modes customizable, because this is what is needed in order to adapt controllers for gamers with disabilities.

Hardcore gamers also frequently ask for customizable controls (hardcore gamers are a notoriously difficult demographic to please). You can accommodate disabled gamers by doing the very thing that the most abled gamers want anyway! It’s a win across the board.

What makes the games in this post exceptional is that they are both console games, not PC games. Video game consoles are traditionally very limited in their flexibility, and unlike a PC, cannot run the user’s custom software to assist with accessibility.

MLB 11 custom Dualshock controller

Two examples listed below.

Read the rest of this entry »

On loneliness

December 11, 2010

Roger Ebert has blogged about his inability to speak before, but this post stands out as a must-read.

BBC news on assistive tech

December 4, 2010

Where’s Molly

November 29, 2010

CBS News ran a story this weekend about the way we used to manage people with disabilites. We live in a different world; we’ve engineered our society into something else since then. While we have a hard time rationalizing institutionalization now, don’t get too complacent about how enlightened we are. We’ve still got a long way to go.

Nugent Residence Hall at U of I Urbana-Champaign is designed for students with disabilities.

Their web site. (Note that this and all websites of the Disability Resources and Educational Services for the University are screen-reader compliant for those using alternative access.)

This is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. This is really beyond just “accommodation” and taking it to the next level of full inclusion into society.

Tactile display

August 12, 2010

Tactile display.

Sorry, time constraints limit me from talking much about this. Thinking of applications will have to be an exercise left to the reader.