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The Braille Monitor – November, 2000 Edition


New Virtual Audio Computer Game for the Blind

by Curtis Chong


From the Editor: Curtis Chong directs the NFB's Technology Department. Good computer games that blind people can play are few and far between. Here is one you should know about:

The International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind has recently acquired a new and exciting virtual audio computer game for the blind. Called Grizzly Gulch Western Extravaganza, the game immerses you in an audio world which is almost unbelievably realistic. With professional voice and music talent and CD-quality stereo audio, you as player are presented with audio imagery that puts you right in the middle of the action. You can wander about town, meet and deal with the locals, play games of chance in the saloon, or try to make a name for yourself and build your fortune upholding the law against some of the baddest outlaws in the West with your trusty six shooter. The game even has a target range which uses stereo sound to provide one of the best audio shooting ranges we have ever encountered. Stereo headphones are a must with Grizzly Gulch. All of the action is controlled by only four keys on your computer, and no screen reading software is required. All you need is a computer equipped with a standard sound card and the Windows operating system.

In the saloon you can play four games of chance: Blackjack, simple draw poker, the slot machine, and a shell game in which you have to keep track of the hidden coin. The games alone are enough to keep you challenged, and you will be amused by some of the dialog you will hear from the people running them.

To give you an idea of the high quality of the audio realism, let me tell you about the shell game. The first thing that you hear is a coin being tossed on to the table. It lands either to your left, in the middle, or on your right. Then the shells start moving; you hear movement on your right, on your left, or in the center, and you have to pay close attention to what you hear to know when the coin has been passed from one shell to another. Then you are asked to locate the coin. You hear a person saying "here?" to your left, in the center, or on your right as you press the left or right arrow keys. The stereo effects are quite good.

The target range provides a unique audio experience. You are supposed to shoot at bottles thrown into the air by the automated target range. (Yes, I know that automation did not exist in the Old West, but you have to permit the game designers a certain amount of leeway.) Bottles are thrown from your left, from the center, or from your right, and you have to spin around before you shoot so you can hit the bottle before it reaches the ground. First-time users should expect to be insulted several times before the automation says, grudgingly, "Not bad."

While a good portion of the game involves hunting for and apprehending outlaws, and while the only way to capture an outlaw is to shoot your gun, nobody in the game actually dies--not even you, when you are shot by the bank robbers. The worst thing that happens is that someone cries, "You've got me!" when you score a hit. You must also be careful not to shoot any innocent bystanders, who identify themselves by shouting, "Don't shoot me!"

All in all, Grizzly Gulch Western Extravaganza is well worth the $50 price  tag. You can order the game online through the Internet by pointing your browser to http://www.bavisoft.com or contact Bavisoft directly at Bavisoft, P.O. Box #8, Dewitt, New York 13214. E-mail [email protected]  for general questions or game help, [email protected]  for technical support, or [email protected] for sales information.

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