"Nobody Makes Games for Us" - An Investigation Into the Independent Design of Audio Games Through the Development of the Audio Game Hub and Blind Cricket
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According to the World Health Organization (2019), an estimated 217 million people worldwide are visually impaired and 36 million are blind. Although there are approximately 114,000 video games currently in active circulation (MobyGames, 2020), just over 700 of these are accessible to the visually impaired (AudioGames.net, n.d.-a). This practice-oriented research project investigates the potential of audio games through the design and development of the Audio Game Hub and Blind Cricket. The games were created through iterative cycles of prototyping and public releases and stimulated and refined through the agency of voluntary user feedback. They were released on iOS and Android platforms and over a period of two years were downloaded over 130,000 times. They gathered insightful user reviews and won multiple nominations and awards. The project was presented at several conferences and featured on television and the Internet. The research was activated by a form of agency I define as an Indie Designer/Developer. Here, one is an integrated agent who develops work through critical reflection from online reviews, relying heavily on the implementation of tacit knowing (Polanyi, 1967; Schön, 1984). As a ‘generalist’, the Indie Designer/Developer combines the role of researcher, designer, reflective practitioner, developer, publisher and entrepreneur.