View Full Version : Autism Simulator - 3D Game 2015


AshT
01-22-15, 01:52 PM
Hi guys,

So not really sure where to post so thought this area might be the best bet.

It's been a 2+ year project for me, originally started at University for my thesis.

It's goal is to help increase understanding and compassion for those with Autism. I have family members on the spectrum, a Mum and a Brother who have extensively given input to this as well of other members of the Autism community. I don't have Autism afterall so i've had to rely on research and people i've met(and i've only met a small subset!).

Anyway, i'm always looking for criticisms, feedback and suggestions! Specifically, if you have any features you feel would be useful for schools. I.e difficulties you feel a school should/could be aware of that would make life easier!

I'm aiming to release fairly soon. If anyone is interested in beta-testing please pm me . The Simulator shown is actually a few months old and there's been quite a fair amount of new changes.

Website for additional information: www.autism-simulator.com

Quick demo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvJYnNKb05 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvJYnNKb05w)

Flory
01-22-15, 02:10 PM
This is great so far ash keep up the good work you should be pleased with yourself xx

AshT
01-26-15, 05:02 PM
This is great so far ash keep up the good work you should be pleased with yourself xx
Thanks Flory that means a lot to me!

Stevuke79
01-26-15, 11:12 PM
This s brilliant!

Fortune
01-27-15, 05:46 AM
I tried to watch this and uhm, it didn't so much show much about autism as it told...like explaining about how clothes can be uncomfortable or how alarm clocks can be too loud.

And the music was too cacophonous so I couldn't actually finish the video.

I am dubious about "disability simulators" in general and I think that one shouldn't expect much from them or put too many expectations upon them. Watching this video won't show you what it's like to be autistic, it will at best give you information about what it can be like to be autistic.

BellaVita
01-27-15, 06:00 AM
I tried to watch this and uhm, it didn't so much show much about autism as it told...like explaining about how clothes can be uncomfortable or how alarm clocks can be too loud.

And the music was too cacophonous so I couldn't actually finish the video.

I am dubious about "disability simulators" in general and I think that one shouldn't expect much from them or put too many expectations upon them. Watching this video won't show you what it's like to be autistic, it will at best give you information about what it can be like to be autistic.

I agree the music scared me ^^^

AshT
01-27-15, 10:35 AM
I tried to watch this and uhm, it didn't so much show much about autism as it told...like explaining about how clothes can be uncomfortable or how alarm clocks can be too loud.

And the music was too cacophonous so I couldn't actually finish the video.

I am dubious about "disability simulators" in general and I think that one shouldn't expect much from them or put too many expectations upon them. Watching this video won't show you what it's like to be autistic, it will at best give you information about what it can be like to be autistic.

Hi Fortune,
Sorry about the music. Thankyou for the comments!
Would this video be better for you?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfQ6A77tZQI

The video's themselves I don't really feel captures playing the simulation. The important thing so far is that research I did on this did show an increase in understanding of individuals that played for 5-10 minutes. HOWEVER I have also read research on disability simulations that found people who watched videos/movies had less of an understanding than people who played simulations (this one was for dyslexia). This is a very new field though!

Watching this video won't show you what it's like to be autistic, it will at best give you information about what it can be like to be autistic.
Yes!!!
It's very difficult with any disability simulation because no person is the same!
For me the goal however it to increase understanding and awareness. To encourage people to ask questions. To NOT make assumptions. This only conveys one small subset of Autism and focuses on sensory difficulties. There is so much more to work on!

One simulation depicts one type of person so I am going further with this; i'm going to allow OTHERS to use this as a platform to create their own disability simulations of their own experience :).

You might find this article interesting.

Can we or should be simulate Autism? http://www.dart.ed.ac.uk/simulate-autism/

But at the moment it's the best way I think, to reach a wider audience, and to encourage people to think in the shoes of another (better than books I think anyway, but then again, i'm sure many learn better from books than games...just not me!)

I'll post the research/thesis and my findings if people are interested? But you'll have to content with my terrible grammar and crazy ideas and probably half-finished sentences ...the quality of it wasn't great (it's an undergrad dissertation that ended up being 100+ pages and most of my peers was 60...)...it wasn't even properly finished to be honest, there was a lot more I needed to add...luckily I got a good grade for originality and publishable research so it didn't much matter...but it will do for the readers LOL.

Stevuke79
01-27-15, 09:56 PM
AshT, what I really appreciated about this simulator was that it gave a very practical glimpse into the disorder. I don't have autism or aspergers, but I'm very interested in them because I have relatives with both and my doctor tells me that many of my own symptoms are similar to aspergers. I find that understanding aspergers and autism are important in helping me understand myself and my symptoms.

I like your simulator it for similar reasons that I liked this episode of Arthur (about Aspergers):
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=s9eATBV-_lg

If you haven't seen it, I'd give it a watch. It didn't just explain the symptoms .. It gave practical examples of what it might be like. Of Arthur gives a very juvenile picture but what's great is that instead of just saying that "normal sounds can be overwhelmingly loud" or "simple and common conventions for speaking might not make any sense with aspergers" ... It had someone yelling at him with a megaphone and another guy speaking gibberish. Awesome, right?! It attempted to take, in some small way, the experience of Aspergers and translate that to an experience that a neuro-typical person might have. As has been rightly pointed out, it's not truly the experience of aspergers, but we've taken a list of symptoms and made them into something more human.

I think that's exactly what you were doing on a more sophisticated level. (I hope I got the point and haven't misunderstood.) I liked what you did with the lights, visual perspectives and sounds especially.

Personally I really liked your choice of background sounds. I didn't like the music per se - but that felt like your point. It felt overwhelming and a little uncomfortable .. To me the melody always seemed like it was about to "resolve" but it never does.. And when you think it will it gives you some random background conversation. I'm thinking of a blues turnaround that never "turns around".. But it seems to just keep turning and building up or adding layers.

I agree with what some had said - in some places instead of simulating autism, you narrate it. In the places you did that - I have no idea how you might simulate that symptom rather than narrate, but the less you can narrate ... The less text you have (because it's not like autistics see text ;)) .. The stronger I think the simulator will be. But on the other hand maybe some narrating is inevitable.

Please keep us posted. I think this is a great thing.

BellaVita
01-27-15, 10:00 PM
Actually Steve I primarily think in words and in text and so I *do* see text written in my brain as I'm thinking.

It can happen.

Stevuke79
01-27-15, 10:12 PM
Just popped into my head... You can't truly "simulate" pain in a game.. (You can't have the computer rub diamond grit on the users skin) But I've played video games that I think communicated pain very effectively.

Maybe when she puts on a some article of clothing you could make the character move slightly but abruptly backwards .. Or maybe give the screen a yellow or red tint for a second. Or perhaps change the way the character responds/moves to the controls for a while.. I've played games where this can give the perception of "struggling" or "resisting".

I think this is more like what you did with the alarm, the washing machine and the "tantrum". Those were great.

One more thing. Maybe the "contentment level" could relate to the smoothness of the controls. That would help communicate the "soothingness" of the special interests.

Fortune
01-27-15, 10:35 PM
I agree with what some had said - in some places instead of simulating autism, you narrate it. In the places you did that - I have no idea how you might simulate that symptom rather than narrate, but the less you can narrate ... The less text you have (because it's not like autistics see text ;)) .. The stronger I think the simulator will be. But on the other hand maybe some narrating is inevitable.

My point was that you can't simulate it. You can communicate some of what it's like, but you're never going to show allistic people what it is like to be autistic - and that's even assuming there's one "what it is like to be autistic" when the reality is that there are many ways.

I wasn't criticizing AshT for narrating, I was trying to make a point about disability simulators and the limitations thereof.

That episode of Arthur provides useful analogies for allistics to see what autism is like, but it's not providing a simulation because no one can truly simulate autism.

How do you simulate:

* sensory agnosias
* prosopagnosia
* cognitive disorganization in response to sensory overload
* literal interpretations
* unusual social cognition

to name a few? I've found when I describe what sensory overload is like for me to allistics, they translate it into something they've experienced, which amounts to a fairly significant difference between what I am trying to say and how they interpret what they hear.

Oh yeah, and the music bothered me because it was actually overloading.

Fortune
01-27-15, 10:47 PM
Hi Fortune,
Sorry about the music. Thankyou for the comments!
Would this video be better for you?

Much better, and with the audio cues (alarm clock, for example) it's easier to tell what's supposed to be happening.

It's easier to follow what is supposed to be going on. The sensory overload bits are genuinely overloading, at least for me.

One thing is that people look at something like this and might assume it is the same for all autistic children or even all autistic people. Different things can set people off, some autistic people don't see fluorescent lights flicker like it's a nightclub, some shutdown before they meltdown, etc.

I do get the impression you actually talked to autistic people and incorporated that into the program.

Oh: The footsteps are REALLY LOUD.

Stevuke79
01-27-15, 10:51 PM
I didn't think you were being critical at all. I think you gave feedback like she asked.

When you said this didn't "simulate" as much as "tell" that's what I thought you meant. If not, then it was just my own impression of the simulator. I personally thought the simulator was strongest where the experience needed the least describing and the words were more just for the "words in the characters head". To me that seemed more like a simulator and less like a narrative.

As far as what you actually meant, I also thought that was really interesting. I could see it both ways. Even though I personally think it can do a lot of good, you are clearly right that you can never truly simulate a disorder. I hadn't thought of that - I appreciated the point.

AshT
01-28-15, 01:03 PM
AshT, what I really appreciated about this simulator was that it gave a very practical glimpse into the disorder. I don't have autism or aspergers, but I'm very interested in them because I have relatives with both and my doctor tells me that many of my own symptoms are similar to aspergers. I find that understanding aspergers and autism are important in helping me understand myself and my symptoms.

I like your simulator it for similar reasons that I liked this episode of Arthur (about Aspergers):
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=s9eATBV-_lg

If you haven't seen it, I'd give it a watch. It didn't just explain the symptoms .. It gave practical examples of what it might be like. Of Arthur gives a very juvenile picture but what's great is that instead of just saying that "normal sounds can be overwhelmingly loud" or "simple and common conventions for speaking might not make any sense with aspergers" ... It had someone yelling at him with a megaphone and another guy speaking gibberish. Awesome, right?! It attempted to take, in some small way, the experience of Aspergers and translate that to an experience that a neuro-typical person might have. As has been rightly pointed out, it's not truly the experience of aspergers, but we've taken a list of symptoms and made them into something more human.

I think that's exactly what you were doing on a more sophisticated level. (I hope I got the point and haven't misunderstood.) I liked what you did with the lights, visual perspectives and sounds especially.

Personally I really liked your choice of background sounds. I didn't like the music per se - but that felt like your point. It felt overwhelming and a little uncomfortable .. To me the melody always seemed like it was about to "resolve" but it never does.. And when you think it will it gives you some random background conversation. I'm thinking of a blues turnaround that never "turns around".. But it seems to just keep turning and building up or adding layers.

I agree with what some had said - in some places instead of simulating autism, you narrate it. In the places you did that - I have no idea how you might simulate that symptom rather than narrate, but the less you can narrate ... The less text you have (because it's not like autistics see text ;)) .. The stronger I think the simulator will be. But on the other hand maybe some narrating is inevitable.

Please keep us posted. I think this is a great thing.

Hi Steve,

Thankyou for your feedback and comments! I am going to watch the Arthurs episode tonight but I think I may have seen it before :).

For the video, I would like to clarify it was primarily meant to be a quick demo introduction for people before they played the simulator. It's very old, but owing all the feedback from this topic on the video it's going to help me make a better tutorial for the next one!

I will be releasing the playable version in a few weeks time :).

AshT
01-28-15, 01:28 PM
My point was that you can't simulate it. You can communicate some of what it's like, but you're never going to show allistic people what it is like to be autistic - and that's even assuming there's one "what it is like to be autistic" when the reality is that there are many ways.

I wasn't criticizing AshT for narrating, I was trying to make a point about disability simulators and the limitations thereof.

That episode of Arthur provides useful analogies for allistics to see what autism is like, but it's not providing a simulation because no one can truly simulate autism.

How do you simulate:

* sensory agnosias
* prosopagnosia
* cognitive disorganization in response to sensory overload
* literal interpretations
* unusual social cognition

to name a few? I've found when I describe what sensory overload is like for me to allistics, they translate it into something they've experienced, which amounts to a fairly significant difference between what I am trying to say and how they interpret what they hear.

Oh yeah, and the music bothered me because it was actually overloading.

Hi Fortune,

Firstly, no worries about any feedback you give being taken as overly-critical. You are bringing very valid interesting points. You are 100% correct I feel of the limitations. I had to accept the limitations when I made this. I can only try to reduce the effects of the limits but I cannot remove them.

My point was that you can't simulate it. The primary goal is not to accurately simulate, but accurately educate and teach =).
I don't have Autism. I can't simulate the condition, but I can help others like myself who struggled with understanding their family members or friends. I don't understand Autism fully, even with growing up with a Mum with ASD and working with children, and reading all the research. I will be the first to put up my hand and say. I know nothing. With each new person with Autism I meet I learn something entirely new.

But, I do know what it's like to want to desperately understand. I do know what was useful for me (i.e not books) in my 23 years of trying too.

I do, therefore have a better ability to hopefully empathise with the audience playing this, whom are also like me, wanting to understand.

And then I also hopefully have the people on the spectrum to help me adjusting the simulator to make this more accurate, so that they are conveyed in a way that is respectable to them.

This is going to be a teamwork effort, as it has been so far :). I am really, just a proxy, the developer.


to name a few? I've found when I describe what sensory overload is like for me to allistics, they translate it into something they've experienced, which amounts to a fairly significant difference between what I am trying to say and how they interpret what they hear. But, wouldn't a simulation help alleviate this issue I wonder? Because it is not requiring the NT to draw from their own experience but a visual experience created from LOTS(*but still not enough) of input from the Autism community. One person expressed that a "sensory overload feels like being sucked into a dark abyss".
That's quite difficult to explain or relate too! The use of language to communicate so far i've found difficult; because it seems that for people with Autism sometimes there are just not words to explain it.

To compensate for the "still not enough", is the idea to allow these settings to be adjusted for individual experiences. So an individual with Autism can change these and say "Hey, this is actually what it's more like for me. I don't have these swirly effects you've put on there"

* sensory agnosias
* prosopagnosia
* cognitive disorganization in response to sensory overload
* literal interpretations
* unusual social cognitionI actually have a lot of ideas for conveying most of these in the simulator. Some are already done and all have been verified by people with Autism as a good means to do this. BUT your points are still all completely valid. I can never simulate these 100%. I can only put the initial design out there and see what feedback I get so it can be tweaked.

Oh yeah, and the music bothered me because it was actually overloadingOne of the issues I've had actually with testing this is people with Autism expressing the simulation causes them sensory overloads :(. I'm hoping the settings adjustments will help!

AshT
01-28-15, 01:31 PM
Much better, and with the audio cues (alarm clock, for example) it's easier to tell what's supposed to be happening.

It's easier to follow what is supposed to be going on. The sensory overload bits are genuinely overloading, at least for me.

One thing is that people look at something like this and might assume it is the same for all autistic children or even all autistic people. Different things can set people off, some autistic people don't see fluorescent lights flicker like it's a nightclub, some shutdown before they meltdown, etc.

I do get the impression you actually talked to autistic people and incorporated that into the program.

Oh: The footsteps are REALLY LOUD.

One thing is that people look at something like this and might assume it is the same for all autistic children or even all autistic people. Different things can set people off, some autistic people don't see fluorescent lights flicker like it's a nightclub, some shutdown before they meltdown, etc.

I do get the impression you actually talked to autistic people and incorporated that into the program.
In quite a few of the description boxes I specify this but i'm not sure to what extent it will sink in for people.

I've just had a nice idea. After the next version I may make two different characters with two different sensory profiles. Perhaps with playing two different "peoples with Autism" it will sink into the user that the experiences of Autism can be vastly different?

Stevuke79
01-28-15, 02:12 PM
A good question to ask might be: Will people, on average, have a better or worse understanding of the disorder after playing such a game?

As far as assuming it's the same for all: Will people, on average, have a better or worse understanding of the non-uniformity of the disorder, after playing such a game?

(I have no idea. I could see it either way but if I were to guess, a well made game would help more than hurt.)

AshT
01-28-15, 04:14 PM
A good question to ask might be: Will people, on average, have a better or worse understanding of the disorder after playing such a game?

As far as assuming it's the same for all: Will people, on average, have a better or worse understanding of the non-uniformity of the disorder, after playing such a game?

(I have no idea. I could see it either way but if I were to guess, a well made game would help more than hurt.)

Will people, on average, have a better or worse understanding of the disorder after playing such a game?
That was the research carried out for the thesis. Positive results but too small a sample.

Will people, on average, have a better or worse understanding of the non-uniformity of the disorder, after playing such a game?
That would be an interesting aspect to test!

Stevuke79
01-28-15, 05:47 PM
I was suggesting that the answer would pretty much have to be yes.

And yeah - the research you cited before showed it.