Computer games are changing children’s lives in hospices across the country. Students on London South Bank University’s BA (Hons) Game Cultures course were commissioned by charity Lifelites to develop video games accessible to youngsters with disabilities.
Lifelites - the charity which provides specialist technology for young people at every baby and children’s hospices across the British Isles - tasked LSBU students with creating a variety of accessible games: from traditional platform and racing games, to more abstract and experience-based worlds. The games have been developed for the special equipment supplied by Lifelites for children in hospices throughout the country.
“This project is amazing on so many fronts,” says course director Siobhán Thomas. “Students get the chance to work with a professional client on a real-life brief. They’re under pressure to deliver quality games and they know what they’re doing has real-life consequences. This project really has the power to change the lives of children in hospices. It’s not just a university assignment; it provides students with the type of life lessons that are impossible to replicate in a classroom — life lessons that make somebody graduating from university incredibly employable.”
Lifelites says that their technology packages give severely disabled youngsters better opportunities to learn, play and participate with their brothers, sisters and mates. At Richard House in Beckton, for example, groups of boys spend hours thrashing each other at football, exploring new worlds, racing expensive cars and behaving just like other teenage boys - enjoying games and forging friendships.
The technology is specially designed with disability in mind: the head-mouse app gives children with low motor skills the chance to use the computer and type like anyone else. Special mice are installed for interactive and story-telling games. ...And each package includes an adjustable touch-screen computer as well.
“It’s so exciting to be involved with a development project like this, especially as it’s the first project of its kind," said Simone Enefer-Doy, Chief Executive at Lifelites. "Accessibility isn’t always at the forefront of a game developer’s mind so it’s been really interesting to see the ways in which these talented students have used it as a launchpad for some really fantastic ideas.”