When creating VR games and experiences, we should design them so that they can be used by the blind.
VR for blind people may seem counterintuitive, but if you think it through it makes a lot of sense. The thought occurred to me after visiting the Notes on Blindness VR experience, followed by something Lucas Rizzotto said on the Research VR Podcast.
I hate buttons, and I hate two-dimensional interfaces… a Like button is exactly not the way to do it.Lucas Rizzotto
It’s often said that VR is a visual medium, but with properly implemented spacial audio, VR can be an auditory medium too. There’s no reason why someone who experiences actual reality without any visual information couldn’t do the same in a virtual environment.
Thinking about our virtual worlds in this way also helps us to imagine interaction paradigms that fit better in a 3D space. For example, if 2D menus are out – what creative possibilities exist to replace them?
Some other examples:
- If the user has no visual information to understand their position in the world, what audio cues can I provide?
- Maybe there should be a lake rippling to one side, and the wind rustling the leaves in the trees behind?
- How do I represent locomotion and movement with sound?
- Are there any sounds reflecting the players status (health, stamina, or effects)?
- How can I precisely position an obstacle or goal with audio cues?
Of course, thinking about our virtual worlds in this way will profoundly increase immersion for everyone.
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