Video, of course, takes its root from the Latin word for "see." So a "video game" for those who have lost their sight might look like a paradox, but it doesn't sound like one.
Gambit Game Lab, a collaboration of developers at MIT and Singapore, have developed AudiOdyssey as a proof-of-concept that games can be created for the disabled to enjoy, too. (You might remember Gambit as the winner of the grand prize of Microsoft's Dream-Build-Play game development contest.)
Gambit's mission is to develop games for a global market, rather than build for one language/culture and translate it elsewhere. One MIT designer got to thinking about markets in something other than a geographic sense, and wondered if a game could be built to include both blind and sighted gamers.
Thus AudiOdyssey, which served as Eitan Glinert's master's degree thesis at MIT. In it, one performs as a club DJ (named Vinyl Scorcher) who matches clapping beats to pump up the crowd and bring more clubbers onto the dance floor. A Wiimote or a keyboard is used to match the beats — hear one to your right, swing the Wiimote in that direction, or hit the right arrow, for example. The game was engineered to deliver the same experience for a gamer regardless of sight.
“Choosing music as our central game theme works perfectly since both sighted and nonsighted users are equally familiar with music,” Mr. Glinert said. You can download the game here.
The New York Times' Education Life section mentioned it among 22 other student innovations in the past year. Since graduation he's gone on to found Fire Hose Games, in Cambridge, Mass., to develop video games with a positive social impact.
Update: Eitan wrote to provide a link to his thesis, and says he'd be happy for any devs — pro, amateur, dabblers, whomever — in the Kotaku community to take a look at it in case they might find it useful for their own efforts.
Bright Ideas: See Me, Hear Me, a Video Game for the Blind [New York Times, thanks Sensai-N]
The Human Controller: Usability and Accessibility in Video Game Interfaces [Eitan Glinert's master's degree thesis at MIT]