A Rock Band-Style Game For The Blind

Music isn’t a visual art-form, and many amazing musicians, from Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles to Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Roul Midón have created incredible sounds despite (or possibly even enhanced by) their inability to see.

But music video games are still largely visual — in Rock Band and Guitar Hero, players must follow the coloured squares on the screen to know when they should play what notes to match up with the music. Rupinder Dhillon, a game developer and Digital Arts & New Media MFA at the University of California Santa Cruz, is looking to change that with her upcoming game Rock Vibe.

Slated for a 2013 release, Rock Vibe works via a USB-attached glove, which receives data from the game and vibrates depending on which finger the player is supposed to depress buttons on a guitar or drum controller. You can see the concept in the video above, and it looks very neat; I could imagine it being a trip to play!

The game will support standalone play on Mac and PC, since most blind gamers don’t own gaming consoles. Dhillon is running a kickstarter campaign to raise the money necessary to complete the game’s development and donate copies of the game to organisations that work with blind children. They’re almost halfway to their $US32,000 goal and have received pledges from folks at Harmonix, Sledgehammer Games and Crystal Dynamics.

Bringing music gaming to the blind? Sounds like a kickstarter worth supporting. Head on over there, watch the video, and help out if you can. Every gamer, sighted or blind, should be able to experience the joy of playing along to “Maneater” by Hall & Oates.

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