How is it that a 5th grader discovered how to create not only a video game but a video game for the blind? Ten year old Dylan Viale used GameMaker, which aids in designing games and his own creativity and drive.
His motivation? A desire to share his love for video games with his blind grandmother. He used sound clues to guide the player through a maze – a “cha-ching” sound for each diamond picked up and a distinct sound for running into the wall of the maze. The game, Quacky’s Quest, even includes spiders to indicate traveling in the wrong direction. Upon entering a path of spiders, the sound effect of a spider skittering around sounds, and further exploration into the path will cause dynamite to explode.
Like all game designers, Dylan came across his fair share of design problems. When his grandmother accidentally traveled back down the same corridor as before, there were no sound effects to help her realize the error. Dylan searched GameMaker’s message boards for answers, reading through a long list of Q&A’s to help figure out a solution. He finally came up with boulders that drop down to block previously explored paths. A distant noise sounded when a boulder was touched, allowing Dylan’s grandmother an easier time out of the maze.
Quacky, the main protagonist in the game, is a small yellow duck that Dylan created years ago, adding to family letters and notes. Quacky’s mission in Quacky’s Quest is to make his way to a grand prize, the Golden Egg.
It took Dylan only a month to develop Quacky’s Quest, using friends and family as test subjects. It even won first prize at his school’s science fair. His classmates love it and begged for copies, which he provided. Dylan’s father, Dino, noted that experienced gamers were not as adept at completing the mazes as those who had never played games. “[Experienced gamers] weren’t as in touch with the sound. They didn’t rely on the sound as much as a blind person would, or even a person who wasn’t familiar with gaming.”
KitGuru says: Dylan should enter his game in other competitions and get it out into the world for blind kids to enjoy as well! This goes to show that kids really can achieve their goals and dreams, no matter what age they are. All you need is an idea and plenty of motivation.