Video game simulates the world of autism

Susan Moffitt

Vancouver-based video game designer Taylan Kadayifcioglu, who goes more accessibly by Taylan Kay, has created "Auti-Sim," a video game that demonstrates what it is like living with hypersensitivity common to autism. The essence of the game is this: As the user walks around a playground, other children laugh and play on the equipment. However, anytime the user gets too close to the crowd, the situation becomes overwhelming. Suddenly, the children’s laughter turns loud and cacophonous and their faces become abstractly distorted. The user can then escape the situation by moving to a quieter, more secluded area of the playground.

The game was created in merely twelve hours at last month’s Vancouver’s Hacking Health Hackathon, a conclave devoted to applying technology to health issues. Truth to tell, it looks like it was a one day project. But hats off to them for the idea. Moving forward, the graphics will surely improve.

Mr. Kay is also taking criticism to heart that no one with autism with was included in the game’s design team. As their project continues, they have pledged to remedy that problem. They intend to illustrate autism comprehensively in an expanded game that will be made available to the public for free.

This is a very creative and generous act. While video games have been made for individuals on the autism spectrum, this is the first time someone has tried to generate awareness and empathy from the neurotypical population through this universal and thus powerful medium.

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