Blind Gamer Can Play Video Games By Ear



Terry Garrett has been blind since the age of 10, but he can play certain video games exceptionally well by using in-game sounds to figure out his character's environment. Garrett is especially skilled at the game Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee:

The beep of a blinking bomb, the desperate cry of a friend in need, the pounding of a Mudokon’s hammer: They all provide crucial details that enable Garrett to get through the game’s punishing levels. When he needs orientation, Garrett listens carefully for “sound landmarks” like running water or footsteps shifting from grass to earth. And as he works his way through the side-scrolling puzzler’s world of weird creatures, Garrett pieces the noises together and sees the game’s levels laid out in his mind.[...]

Today, Garrett can beat the entire game, executing every jump and step with near-perfect precision. He’s honed his hearing to the point where he can recognize exactly which sounds refer to each object and act accordingly. He hasn’t memorized every level, but he knows enough about the sound design to beat Oddworld without dying.

“Through Abe’s sounds, I was able to figure out how to navigate the world,” Garrett, now an engineering student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, told Wired.com in an e-mail.


According to its creator, Oddworld wasn't created with visually-impaired playing in mind. But the role of sound in it makes it well suited for that purpose.

Link | Photo: Oddworld Inhabitants

Previously: Three Men Create 100,000-Keystroke Script So That Blind Gamer Can Complete a Video Game

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