How To Design A Video Game With No Graphics

Throughout DOWiNO’s new mobile game A Blind Legend, your screen remains dark, with only an image of dense fog across the screen. You assume the role of knight whose eyes have been gouged out and whose wife and daughter have been taken. Using only your auditory senses, you must navigate the fantasy medieval world to get them back and seek vengeance.

To create the immersive, audio-only mobile game, the designers used a production technique called binaural sound that essentially creates a 3-D soundscape with music coming from different directions to help players navigate (it works best with headphones). Players use the smartphone touchscreen like a joystick, swiping to move their feet or their sword, and rely on the sounds of the daughter’s voice to navigate. As the game continues, sounds layer, grow louder and softer, and a more intricate, engaging environment starts to emerge.

The concept of “video-less” games is being adopted by a growing number of gaming designers who want to make games accessible to people across the vision spectrum. In 2010, British gaming studio Somethin’ Else launched Papa Sangre series and the video game BlindSide launched in 2013. Both are popular audio-driven thrillers for mobile devices.

DOWiNO started developing A Blind Legend last year, and raised funds on French crowdfunding site Ulule to bring the concept to life. Designed to entertain visually impaired players as well as those who can see, the game recreates the experience of being blind for the sighted. It’s also one more step toward building an accessible, inclusive future for digital technology.