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A final-year student at the University of Abertay in Dundee has developed a video game that people who are blind and partially sighted can play. Alasdair Marnoch (22) from the Isle of Lewis launched his new game, called 'FHear', at the university's digital graduate show on Friday, May 15th.
FHear, is a horror-themed game that is playable through audio alone. There is no need for sight to be able to play and enjoy it and experience everything it has to offer. In FHear, the players finds themselves stranded in a dark forest and must use their hearing to identify the direction of a guide and escape the pursuit of a malevolent creature. The sense of fear and foreboding is heightened by the music, which grows more intense as the creature gets nearer.
“I grew up playing the violin and piano so I guess you could say that music has always been a passion of mine," says Alasdair, who has the sight loss condition nystagmus. "I’ve always enjoyed playing computer games and have loved learning about how sound and music are used within the computer games industry whilst at university.”
A student on the university's Sound and Music for Games degree course, Alasdair didn't initially seek to create a game that was playable by people with sight loss. It was only during development that he realised that he was creating something that was accessible to them. "Students at Abertay have been working from home, which has made the research and development stages of my project more difficult than it should have been," he says. "On the other hand, it’s cut out many forms of distraction in my life and focus all my attention on developing FHear."
Now he is aiming for a career as an audio designer for a game development studio, a natural fit given his musical background and interest in games.
"I’m going to start reaching out to games development companies and sound designers and see if there’s any interest in the concept. It will also be a great way of showing prospective employees what I can do to do within, sound design, music and games development."