Magnusmode & ARIC Create Games for Life
Our coverage of ARIC helping create games for social causes continues (see here for our previous entry) with a look at a partnership by the kidsmediacentre to use the medium to assist children with autism. The partner was Magnusmode Inc., and the project’s goal was to create an app targeted to people ages 15-30 with developmental disabilities, to teach them life skills.
For founder and managing director Nadia Hamilton, this was a personal project, brought on by her desire to see people like her autistic younger brother have an equal opportunity to be independent, sociable, and happy. The population of teens and young adults in North America living with developmental disabilities is expected to rise in the coming years, and yet it’s a group that tends to be overlooked in society. Most treatments are geared toward young children, with teens and adults facing issues of dependence, exclusion, and solitude alone.
The Magnuscards app was the end result of the collaboration’s efforts. The app is centred around building the titular cards, helping the users make choices, and teaching them to live independent lives. In essence, the cards are simple guides to life activities like cooking, using a debit card taking the bus, and other life skills that can be challenging to some. The cards serve as digital guides to the world, designed to provide people with special needs with a one-stop tool for independent living. The game itself provides positive reinforcement, encouraging users to repeatedly use Card Sets, and master skills.
Majura Maheswaran was one of the project’s student researchers, responsible for programming the cross-platform version of the title. Majura found the opportunity to help the developmentally disabled to be a moving experience, recalling a test of the program involving 10 children with autism. “They don’t know that they’re learning from it,” he says. “To them it’s just a game, but in reality, they’re actually learning step-by-step how to do something. That’s for sure something that I cherish, and that helped me a lot.”