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AER Report: Gaming Aids Navigation for the Blind

AER Report: Gaming Aids Navigation for the Blind

August 13, 2009 | By Danny Cowan

August 13, 2009 | By Danny Cowan
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A report published in AER Journal: Research and Practice in Visual Impairment and Blindness has revealed that blind individuals who play audio-based video games may exhibit improvements in real-world navigation skills.

Challenging the assumption that a lack of visual cues results in difficulty in perceiving spatial environments, the report's authors conducted a study in which subjects were tasked with recreating a virtual space represented solely with audio cues.

After completing a single level of one of two audio-based video games (AudioDoom and AudioMetro), each subject used building blocks to recreate the layout of the labyrinth or subway system explored during gameplay.

Results found that tested gamers demonstrated "a high level of success" in recreating traversed paths in both games. The report's authors suggest that the subjects were also successful in the creation of cognitive spatial maps -- a key navigational skill for blind individuals.

The authors do not believe that audio-based video games will replace current educational and rehabilitative programs for the blind, but hope that their research will lead to a complementary set of controlled, risk-free scenarios. The full report can be read here.


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