Wii Sports can be a big factor in getting sedentary children moving, but what about blind children? A video game research project at the University of Nevada, Reno, is creating Wii Sports-based PC games that don't require eyesight to play.
The two games in the VI Fit line play much like their Wii Sports counterparts. Both VI Tennis and VI Bowling mimic their respective sports through use of the Wii remote. The only difference is that instead of seeing where the tennis ball is coming from or visually lining up a strike, blind players hear and feel the games through use of sound and vibrotactile cues.
VI Tennis makes use of the Wii remote's speaker and vibration function to tell players when to serve or return the tennis ball. Tested with a group of 13 blind children at developmental sports camp Camp Abilities, the children were engaged in active energy expenditure levels considered to be healthy.
VI Bowling uses the Wii remote's vibration motor to help the blind narrow down when to hurl the ball, while voice effects let players know how well they've done.
Dr. Eelke Folmer and Tony Morelli of the University of Nevada in Reno, Dr. John Foley of the State University of New York Cortland and Dr. Lauren Lieberman of SUNY Brockport collaborated on the project, with the goal of increasing the participation of users with visual impairments in physical activity and to improve their health. Nintendo was not involved in the development of Vi Fit.
Both games are available now for free at the Vi Fit website. Both require a Wii remote and a PC with Bluetooth support to play.