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A trilogy of gaming-disability news

Since they're all so cool I couldn't decide between them, here are three neat things I found:

1. Max Shooter, an XBox 360 adapter

2. "Strikes for Strokes donations aid in rehab," from Mt. Vernon Register-News

3. SpecialEffect.org.uk

Video: Gamer, tech journalist Michael Phillips demonstrates his accessible Mac setup

Michael Phillips is a gamer, tech journalist and AppleMaster. He's written for Inside Mac Games. Michael has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and uses a USB switch interface called Swifty and SwitchXS, a program which lets people who use switches access all Mac applications. Right now, he's the editor for AssistiveGaming.com.

Video game helps disabled people learn life skills

A ScienceDaily article from May profiles a video game that helps people with disabilities learn to shop at a supermarket. The game's development team was led by three 2008 graduates of the Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, and is part of the CapAbility Games Research Group. The game is called Casual Shopper and its supermarket is based on a local brick-and-mortar store called Price Chopper, right down to the blueprints:

A computer monitor set up directly in front of the user simulates the layout of the store, and a second monitor to the left displays a virtual shopping list. Users start the game by selecting a meal they’d like to make—such as a spaghetti dinner, a holiday ham, or even rotini with alfredo lobster sauce—and complete it when they’ve found all the items on their list.

I think simulating an actual place in a video game is a really neat project. Of course, I'm biased.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky Review

The Zone has never been less inviting

Read review of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

HIGH Exploring the game's vast landscapes and detailed architecture.

LOW Shooting another character with a shotgun nine times from a few feet away and doing no apparent damage.

WTF What happened to the game I loved?

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

Game Description: Go back one year from the events of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. In Clear Sky, a group of stalkers has reached the heart of the Zone - Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. An immense blowout of anomalous energy changes the Zone. There are no more reliable and relatively safe roads. Entire levels vanish in the outbursts of anomalies. Stalkers and even expeditions die or end up sealed on the lost territories. New areas, which remained unknown since the time of the Zone emergence, appear on the Zone map. Changes of the Zone map known to stalkers shake the fragile balance of forces in the Zone. Among the groupings, there flare up hostilities for the new territories, artifact fields and spheres of influence. Everyone is now out for himself. You are a mercenary who appeared at the edge of the opposition between stalker factions, Strelok and the Zone itself. You play the key role in the events that led to creation of the Zone up to the point from which the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game begins. Which faction will take the upper hand?

The Horror Geek Presents: EA Announces Dead Space Upgrade Packs

 

According to Kotaku, EA has announced that its popular survival horror game Dead Space is getting some premium upgrade packs. Like all things EA, expect these new "enhancements" to cost you (to the tune of nearly $30 if you wanted them all--which is half the retail price of the entire goddamn game...) and that some of them will be useless "graphical upgrades" as opposed to things that would actually warrant shelling out cold hard cash. In their defense, there are some upgrades that change the game experience--upgrading weapon power, mostly--and no one's holding a gun to your head to force you into shelling out cash for these things. Your copy of Dead Space will still work just fine without them.

Eye-gaze software for people with disabilities demonstrated using World of Warcraft, Second Life

PhD candidate Stephen Vickers and his team at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK are designing software for people with disabilities who use eye-gaze control to be better able to play video games. Here are videos of Stephen demonstrating the software, called Snap Clutch, in World of Warcraft and Second Life.

In a paper Vickers co-authored for the 4th Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology ("Gaze Interaction with Virtual On-Line Communities: Levelling the Playing Field for Disabled Users"—available in his list of publications), eye gaze was compared to mouse control in the game Second Life. While eye-gaze performed comparably in moving the avatar from place to place and in manipulating objects, it didn't do well for using applications within the game (thanks to the applications' tiny buttons) or communicating in-game via an on-screen keyboard.

High school students design a virtual disability simulation with a game engine

This is video of a virtual disability simulation; its object is to get a character who uses a wheelchair from one end of a city to the other. The simulation uses the Cube 2 engine. It was designed in the summer of 2007 by Project Beta, a team of Philadelphia high school students involved in the Building Information Technology Skills (bITS) program. bITS is sponsored by the Information Technology and Society Research Group (ITSRG) at Temple University.

Saints Row 2

Game Description: A worthy successor to Saints Row, the first open-world title on next-generation consoles, Saints Row 2 features all new customization options, including player's: gender, age, voice, crib and gang. In addition, the sandbox just got larger with a totally transformed and expanded city of Stilwater, offering all new locations to explore with new vehicles, including motorcycles, boats, helicopters and planes. Saints Row 2 will be playable online in 2-player co-op through the entire singleplayer campaign or in the all new open-world competitive multiplayer mode never before seen in the genre.

Saints Row 2 Review

New Playa, Same Game

Read review of Saints Row  2

HIGH Jumping out of a plane to discover that there's a minigame associated with the landing.

LOW Finishing a stressful mission only to have my 360 lock up before I had a chance to save.

WTF Not being able to adjust the bust and hip size of female characters.

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