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MIT Wii game aims to put visually impaired on level playing field

By focusing on audio and giving players the challenge of creating a beat with their Wii controller, anyone who can hear can play AudiOdyssey.

If some researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Singapore-based Gambit Game Lab have anything to say about it, gamers with serious vision problems won't have to take a backseat to their 20/20 friends anymore.

On Tuesday, the lab unveiled AudiOdyssey, a game for the Nintendo Wii that is based solely around sound and tasks players with mimicking a DJ trying to create a catchy beat that people can dance to.

The idea is that players--those with or without vision problems--can use the Wii's motion-sensitive controllers to get a rhythm going and then build more complex musical layers on top of it.

The game is also designed to work with a regular keyboard so that those without a Wii can still play.

Games for the blind or visually impaired are nothing new, but what makes AudiOdyssey interesting is that it puts anyone who can hear on a level playing field, regardless of whether they can see or not.

And that's interesting, because there's certainly a lot of people out there with vision problems who I am certain would want the opportunity to play games with their normal-vision friends. And if AudiOdyssey proves to be a success, that could mean the development of a market for such games, which in turn would mean even more get designed and sold.

On June 10, Geek Gestalt hits the highways for Road Trip 2008. I'll start in Orlando, Fla., and visit many of the South's most interesting destinations. Stay tuned, and be sure to keep up, both now and during the trip, with what I'm doing on Twitter.