How A Blind Man Plays Video Games

Mechanical engineering student and gamer Terry Garrett can play just about the perfect game of Abe's Exoddus. Which is pretty awesome, considering Garrett is totally blind.


Having lost one eye at the age of 5 and the other at age 10, Garrett is limited in what he can play because, unable to see what's happening on-screen, he has to rely on game's sound to get him through.

While he plays games like Zelda, Mario, Metal Gear and Metroid, it's the Oddworld series of platformers that are his titles of choice, because being both 2D games (easier to navigate) and packing great sound design (making it easier to track his progress) they're a lot more accessible.


Garrett has quite the routine for progressing through a game:

After finding out they are either 2D scrollers or 3D worlds I first have a sighted person describe the menus to me, so I can get the game started on my own. Then I go to the internet and seek a walkthrough (especially for 3d games). If it becomes to difficult, I will also watch walk through videos on youtube.

However, I did not need a walk through or video walk through for Abe. When I start playing I track sound landmarks (foot steps, objects, sound of running or pushing against walls). After this, I start exploring to see what does what. Always looking for land mark sounds to get my orientation down (sound of water, sound of footsteps changing from grass to dirt).

Finally, I have a great sense of the minds eye. Once I know what is in an area and how they are laid out, I can make a real time picture of what is going on in front of me just through sound. even in 3D. If this is hard to picture I know, I can't explain it better than that.

Once he has all that down, actually working his way through becomes a gruelling process of waiting for sounds, counting the player's steps in the game then remembering those steps, as that's the only way he can find his way around. So, if it's three steps to a switch, another step to the door then five steps to the end of a ledge, Garrett has to remember that. And that's just one platform in an entire game.

Oh, and aside from study and gaming, Garrett also does karate.

The video up top doubles as both an interview with Garrett as well as an example of how he plays his way through a game. It's amazing stuff.


Introducing Terry Garrett; a man possessing a gaming achievement better than yours [Oddworld]

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Killer Toilet

I say there should totally be an "audio game". No graphics at all. Just sound. And you need to navigate it all using hearing.