“BlindSide” Takes the ‘Video’ out of Videogames

A whole lot of what we talk about when we talk about videogames has to do with how they look. With everyone hyping the cutting-edge graphics of big releases and the bulk of indies relying on unique art styles to set themselves apart, it’s pretty easy to think of playing games as a mainly visual experience. This is definitely not the case with BlindSide, a new game currently being developed by two innovative designers and the subject of this week’s highlighted Kickstarter project.

BlindSide: The Audio Adventure Video Game is different. It’s an adventure game that requires players to explore an environment to progress through a story — like many others — but that presents all of its information entirely through audio — completely unlike any others. Inspired by an accident that caused one of its two creators to temporarily lose his sight in high-school, BlindSide is a videogame that looks to give both visually impaired and sighted players the ability to experience a piece of entertainment in the exact same, highly unique way.

The story, only slightly revealed thus far, is split into episodes and concerns two protagonists who awake blind and must deal with discovering why while also being threatened by man-eating monsters looming just outside their home. BlindSide‘s environments are all modelled entirely in 3D, the catch being that none of this modelling is ever seen. Instead, players must rely on audio cues from ambient noise and sound effects to make their way forward.

While it may sound like an overly ambitious idea, for two developers with the dedication and ingenuity to pull it off, it’s not. Santa Monica, California’s Aaron Rasmussen and Michael T. Astolfi have both done a great deal of work in their fields (creative computer science and evolutionary psychology/game design respectively) and approached their idea with the theoretical background necessary for pulling it off. 

An Exclusive "BlindSide" Screenshot

Much of the hard work has already been done but Rasmussen and Astolfi need some help in financing the completion of the game. The money raised through their Kickstarter campaign will go toward costs like hiring voice actors, buying licenses and sound effects, renting out studio time and helping with the developer’s living expenses while finishing the game. If enough money is raised, BlindSide will be slated for a January, 2012 release on Mac, PC and iOS. Contributers will receive rewards like early access to the game’s first episode, special thanks in the game’s website credits, a customized version of the game (with their name taking the place of the the main character’s), a specially designed Braille journal (“written” by BlindSide‘s protagonist) and more.

Interested? BlindSide‘s Kickstarter page has the most information on the project (and an early proof of concept with hilariously bad placeholder audio). It’s also well worth the time to watch Astolfi’s TED presentation (on, no kidding, humanity’s evolutionary predisposition toward videogames) or visit his personal website. BlindSide: The Audio Adventure Video Game will be funded on Thursday, December 1st at 1.53am EST if it meets its $7,000 funding goal on time.