Pulse, a first-person ‘blind’ video game, offers new perspective

[From Canada’s Metro, where the story includes a 4:25 minute video from Kickstarter; more information is available at Polygon]


Vancouver developed first-person ‘blind’ video game offers new perspective

By Elizabeth Hames Metro
April 1, 2013

A group of Vancouver developers is offering gamers a new way to see.

Pulse, a first-person video game prototyped by Vancouver Film School students, features a blind protagonist who uses echolocation to create a mental picture of their environment. Thus, the player can “see” only what is directly in front of or beside them, while the rest of their world remains dark.

While the game does not fully replicate a blind experience, it does attempt to evoke the emotion of living without sight, said Maxwell Hannaman, the lead programmer for Team Pixel Pi, the game’s creators.

“During development, we got in contact with a number of members of the blind community where we were introduced to a strange, yet powerful feeling they had in common: the feeling of living in fear, but having the courage to go on anyways,” said Hannaman in an email.

“Games as an emotional experience’ is a theme that has become more widely accepted in recent years, and Pulse can help bring that even further.”
Team Pixel Pi’s five members, Lala Fuchs, Leanne Roed, Richard Harrison, Michael Cooper, and Hannaman, created the Pulse prototype as their final project for the VFS’s Game Design program. It went on to win a Unity Award for Best Student Project.

But, following graduation, the team refused to put the game to bed.

“We knew that there was still so much more to explore with the concept,” said Hannaman. “With our refined knowledge and desire to explore the rest of this concept, it is almost painful to think about not bringing Pulse to completion.”

So last month, Team Pixel Pi listed Pulse on Kickstarter, a fundraising website for creative projects. As of April 1, Pulse had garnered nearly $28,000 in donations from 1,046 backers.

However, the team has fewer than 10 days to reach their target of $75,000, which will help pay for creative licenses, a soundtrack, and “legal junk,” according the Pulse’s Kickstarter profile.

Appealing to potential donors, Hannaman said: “This is an opportunity to use games to see through a new, unfamiliar perspective.”


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