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Bookshare Member Develops Amazing Flight Simulator Game for Blind People

A guest post from Munawar Bijani, whom we met at ACB in Reno, NV, 2011.

An image of Munawar at DisneyWorld
Munawar Bijani

We asked him to write about Three-D Velocity, his flight simulator game for people who are blind. Munawar is a currently a student at University of Central Florida. His site also has other real-time and turn-based games for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Flying Faster, Higher

We’ve heard of blind people driving cars because of the National Federation of the Blind’s Blind Driver’s Challenge. We’ve heard of blind people driving tanks, piloting submarines, and participating in races thanks to audio games.

Still, there is one thing we have not heard of—at least until recently.

In June 2007, when this project began, a small team including myself as head, ventured out to make the most challenging, serious, and realistic game for blind people to date–we succeeded. In November 2010, we released Three-D Velocity, a combat flight simulation designed for blind and visually impaired gamers. “Three-D Velocity is more complex than most other audio games out there for the blind community,” says Karl Belanger, who has been following this project’s progress for quite some time.

Three-D Velocity is the first ever fully accessible combat flight simulation game designed with the blind in mind. I got a lot of the inspiration for this project because of a book I  got from Bookshare about four years ago called “The Hunt For Red October.” Because the site had all of the Jack Ryan series written by Tom Clancy, I started downloading them one by one after reading “The Hunt For Red October.” Soon, I was completely fascinated with aircraft, submarines, and pretty much anything else to do with the Air Force and Navy. I really wanted to bring this thrill to blind and visually impaired gamers, and this is how Three-D Velocity was born.

Don’t worry, though, just because Three-D Velocity is designed for blind people, doesn’t mean we held back. Rather, very little is left to the auto pilot; this means that  you are in complete control of every single maneuver done by your aircraft. From taking off, to shooting down other aircraft, to landing on an aircraft carrier, you can do it all with Three-D Velocity. “I especially enjoy the fast-pace action and dog fights,” says Mr. Belanger.

We’ve even taken this game a step further. That is, Three-D Velocity isn’t just a flight simulation made for pilot enthusiasts like myself. Instead, we spent a lot of time ensuring that blind players get the best of both worlds–realism and gaming. This is why, in addition to engaging in an aerial dog fight with other aircraft, players can play what we call “Mission Mode,” a fully developed and engaging story which takes the player through a mission carried out by the United States Military.

If you’ve listened to people playing games like Metal Gear Solid, Afterburner, and Top Gun or are into books like the ones I’ve described above, and thought to yourself, “I wish I could fly a plane or play those games,” Three-D Velocity is for you!

If you’ve ever wanted to fly at mach two, shoot down other aircraft, make split-second decisions to save your life, and be the lead role in the outcome of a mission started by United States Black Operations Forces, Three-D Velocity is definitely for you! “I have always been interested in aircraft combat, and I was excited to see such a game produced for the blind community,” says Mr. Belanger. “The Mission Mode was also very well done, and is not something you will beat on your first try.”

Kyle Smith, who has been a long-time fan of the movie Top Gun, says Three-D Velocity “shows a lot of promise for the blind community. It literally puts you in the seat of a fighter jet, which, until this game was developed, was just a dream to most blind people who watched movies like Top Gun.”

From people who just want to try their hands at flying, up to the serious gamers who want a real challenge, Three-D Velocity is sure to bring you days of entertainment. Packed with high-quality scenes, a full-length story, and numerous challenges, this game is quite literally an interactive movie–from an aerial perspective. Chantel Cuddemi agrees. “I’ve always wanted to try a game with airplanes in it,” she says. “I really love how real the game is when you play it. It’s as if you’re in an actual mission.”

Best of all, Three-D Velocity is completely designed from the ground up with accessibility in mind. We don’t use graphics to convey any information; it’s all done through directional sound.

You can download a copy of this game by visiting our website and be among the hundreds of blind people who can brag to their sighted friends that they’ve flown a fighter jet!

“It’s just awesome all around!” says Ms. Cuddemi, who has even gone as far as to memorize some of the scenes in the game and mimic them.

4 Comments

  1. This is awesome, I am glad blind people are enjoying the same things people who can see do!

  2. I think this is a revolutionary step for blind people. Now other developers will start to develop games for the blind and then blind people will be able to enjoy games just like sighted people do.

  3. The history of flight simulators go right back to World War One where they were deployed to train pilots how to aim and fire a machine gun in a cockpit while at the same time flying their aircraft. Since this time the Military and Civil Aviation Industries have employed flight simulators to train pilots in emergency conditions such as changeable weather and many other different scenarios that they offer, just like the real thing.

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