New Tencent Games Highlight Challenges of Visual Impairment

Two recent releases shed light on the experiences of the visually impaired — in both the real and virtual worlds.

A promotional image for the mobile game “Seeing.”

Click the start button and watch as your phone’s screen fades to black. You are now the visually impaired protagonist in a new first-person game from Tencent.

In an article published Friday on its official WeChat account, China’s largest game developer announced two new titles — Seeing and Blind Flight — aimed at raising awareness of visual disabilities.

In Seeing, sighted gamers can step into the shoes of a person with low vision, using a cane to identify and bypass the myriad obstacles people with visual impairments encounter while navigating public spaces. Blind Flight, meanwhile, is a high-adrenaline combat mission designed for visually impaired gamers in which the protagonist is an air force pilot whose sight was taken by shrapnel in an explosion. By heeding audio cues from their right and left earphones, players are able to dodge enemy missiles — and even fight back. Both games are developed by Timi Studio Group, the Tencent team behind the wildly popular multiplayer online battle game “Arena of Valor.”

Tencent’s first-person game Seeing simulates the experience of a visually impaired person by having players navigate a cityscape with only a cane to guide them.

Census data shows that there are around 13 million people with visual impairments living in China — a country which, with approximately 620 million gamers according to market research, is also the world’s largest gaming market. But for people with disabilities, the mobile gaming options are limited.

“Currently, in the China market, only a few games have gone through accessibility adaptation during postproduction. No gaming company had ever customized (a Chinese game) for the visually impaired at the development phase,” Tencent said in its article, alluding to Blind Flight being designed with visually impaired gamers in mind.

The developers of Seeing, meanwhile, hope to raise awareness in particular of traffic safety, a serious concern for visually impaired people whose communities lack accessibility infrastructure. Continue to read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.