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Line Rider 2: Unbound

Game Description: In Line Rider, the sled-stealing scumbag Chaz is up to no good and only you, as the clever and cunning Bosh, can defeat him. For Bosh to save his true love Bailey, players must solve over 40 mind-bending puzzles created by the #1 Line Rider player in the world, TechDawg.

ZAC: A web browser for autistic children

John LeSieur's six-year-old grandson Zackary was overwhelmed by computers: too many options, too many colors, too much stuff in general to keep track of. Zachary has autism, and LeSieur tried to find a web browser that would be less confusing. When he couldn't find such a browser for Zackary, he made one.

Could force feedback joysticks help disabled gamers?

Via Second Life for the Visually Impaired

The Novint Falcon may look like a space helmet with a robot arm sticking out of it, but it's really a kind of joystick that lets players "feel" the games they're playing: "When you hold the Falcon’s detachable Grip and move your cursor to interact with a virtual object, environment, or character, motors in the device turn on and are updated approximately 1000 times a second, letting you feel texture, shape, weight, dimension, and dynamics."

Anyone who's played Nintendo 64 games with the Rumble Pack or turned on the rumble feature in their PS2 DualShock controller has some idea of how force-feedback or haptic technology can influence gaming, but the Falcon takes this technology to a whole new level:

Hold the Falcon's interchangeable Grip and feel a character's actions, instead of controlling a game with mouse-clicks and meters. Feel the weight of a basketball as you shoot it towards a hoop-the momentum and impact as you swing a virtual golf club and strike a ball-the recoil of a weapon-or the physical characteristics of virtual objects and environments.

On the Download: Bejewled Twist launch party

Tonight, the evening of October 27, gamers and journalists from across the country gathered at the Experience Music Project in the heart of Seattle to celebrate the release of PopCap Games' newest offering: Bejweled Twist.

Vocal Joystick lets physically disabled control a computer mouse with their voice

On August 22, 2008, University of Washington Electrical Engineering Ph.D candidate Jon Malkin spoke about the Vocal Joystick (VJ) project at the Gnomedex 8.0 tech conference:

That 70's Show Mila Kunis geeks out about WoW on Jimmy Kimmel

It's nice to see hot celebs talk about video games like it ain't no thang.

UNC-Chapel Hill students make games for blind players

According to an article in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill magazine Endeavors ("Fair Games"), UNC computer science students are designing games for players with low vision. The games were field tested at "Maze Day," when 70 kids with visual impairments came from all around North Carolina to play:

The game [Move to the Music] gives [the blind player] audio feedback on her performance: a handclap when she steps in time to the beat, an occasional buzzer when she’s off rhythm. Six-inch-wide pieces of carpet cover the centers of the squares on the pad, telling her feet where to step.
...
Other students used information readily available on the internet to write programs that can communicate with Nintendo’s Wii controller, called the Wii Remote or 'Wiimote.' Given the task of making a sports game, one group picked a sport that would be familiar to their target audience: beep ball. The real-life game is based on baseball and played by many blind kids and adults, using a softball that beeps and bases that make buzzing sounds. The game the students created combines verbal cues such as 'Ready!' 'Pitch!' and 'Strike!' with simple figures that seem to zoom closer to the player as they run across a green field. The player swings the Wiimote to hit the ball, then shakes the controller back and forth to run toward a base.

The games are playable on common, inexpensive hardware, and are open source; they can be improved or adapted as necessary.

Ubisoft game simulates disabilities

There's been a lot of disability-related goodness going on at Ubisoft lately. After taking action against an ableist slur in MindQuiz last year, the publisher announced this past September that all its games developed in-house will be subtitled. Also, Ubisoft is partnering with organization Handicap International for a campaign called Ability Together. This campaign raises awareness of the problems disabled people face, particularly those in developing countries. And it includes Handigo The Game, a series of free minigames starring characters with different impairments: one is blind, one uses a wheelchair and one has learning difficulties.

National Federation of the Blind vs. Target: Virtual world ramifications?

Via Gameculture.com

On August 27, 2008, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Target announced a $6 mil settlement in a class-action lawsuit concerning the inaccessibility of the Target.com website to blind users.

A major bone of contention in the suit, filed by the NFB in February 2006, was whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies only to physical spaces, or to virtual ones as well. Target argued:

"Target.com is not a place of public accommodation within the meaning of the ADA, and therefore plaintiffs cannot state a claim under the ADA. Specifically...the complaint is deficient because it does not allege that 'individuals with vision impairments are denied access to one of Target’s brick and mortar stores or the goods they contain.'” (PDF of the decision available at Disability Rights Advocates).

Spore Review

The Universe is Yours...And Everyone Else's

Read review of Spore

HIGH You can make any creature you want, do anything you want, and affect the environment in any way you want.

LOW The first four stages combined are much shorter and simpler than the last one, which is a little strange.

WTF Planet Buster, baby.

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