ARIC, Komodo, & Ryerson Give Everyone a Chance to Play
Gone are the days when video games were an entertainment medium for kids. Now, not only can games be for everyone, but they can be used to serve social causes. That’s what ARIC set out to do when it entered a three-way collaboration with Ryerson University’s Inclusive Media and Design Centre (IMDC), and Komodo OpenLab Inc.
Their mission was to provide access to social entertainment for the elderly, specifically those using mobility scooter and powered wheelchair devices. The project became about the creation of a multiplayer mixed-reality game the intended audience could actually play.
The result was Mobility Games. It’s a spin on capture the flag, featuring a GPS-based smartphone app, played by players in power wheelchairs or scooters. Called an Augmented or Mixed-Reality game, it’s played in real space, but there’s a second layer that exists on smartphones. Your phone tracks your position on a GPS map of the area, and the location of the flags. As you move in real space, the icons in the game move around, and when you drift into your opponent’s flag’s territory, the virtual flag travels with you. Everything about the structure of the game was specifically developed to meet the needs of the target audience, using focus groups and test runs conducted in July 2014.
Majura Maheswaran was a student researcher on the project. He initially joined out of a desire to program video games, but became taken by the project’s medical benefits. “I came here thinking that the Mobility Games were just a game,” he admits, “but it had a health purpose.”
He describes the idea as “using actual GPS to locate their location, and creating a game with that.”
He fondly recalls the testing period, and the lessons learned from the trial-and-error process. “We were outside in the main foyer of Progress Campus,” says Majura, “by the student centre, and we were testing there constantly.” Majura’s biggest takeaway from the project was the use of Titanium, a special cross-platform development software that’s served him well in subsequent projects. “If I hadn’t gotten that opportunity,” he admits, “I don’t think I’d be here.”