NewsEducation / December 18, 2019

Indiana College Students Develop Video Game To Help Children With Autism

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Butler University students Mathew O'Hern, left, and Parker Winters, right, are developing a video game to assist children with autism improve social skills. - Provided by Butler University

Butler University students Mathew O'Hern, left, and Parker Winters, right, are developing a video game to assist children with autism improve social skills.

Provided by Butler University

A group of students at Butler University is creating a video game to help young Hoosiers living with autism improve social skills.

The class partnered with Indiana nonprofit Sycamore Services on the game. Players battle zombies, goblins and other characters, while also learning to communicate.  

Instructor Panos Linos says the goal is for players to take what they learn about everyday social interactions in the game and practice it in real life.

“When they meet a character in the game, they would pause and they would be given instructions on how to express appreciation, how to be thankful to people, what’s the proper way to make eye contact,” Linos says.

Players have discussions with characters and choose either negative or positive responses. The character’s facial expression will react based on which response the player chooses.

Sophomore Mathew O’Hern says he appreciates the impact this project will have on the community.

“We had a student of sycamore services come that was seeing the game for the first time,” O’Hern says. “The game seemed to have a lot of possibilities for him. It made the whole project with it.”

The game is currently in beta format and has not yet been named.

The class hopes to finish the game soon so it will be available for play at Sycamore Services locations.

Contact Darian at dbenson@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @helloimdarian.

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