Can 3D Worlds be Accessible?
Amaze3D is the result of our research to determine the extent to which 3D games can be made accessible, and thus used as game-based learning content in Chang School courses. Our goal was to determine if 3D learning experiences could be made accessible for blind learners in particular.
Amaze3D is based on the Accessibility Maze 2D version of the game, with the same storyline and game content. The 3D version of the Accessibility Maze is built on the Unity game engine, with the Unity Accessibility Plugin (UAP) included as part of the game. UAP provides much of the accessibility functionality for the game, in addition to custom elements we have created to address navigation without sight through a 3D virtual world. These elements include:
- Accessible Camera - used to scan through the world and announce objects as they fall under the camera's crosshairs. Players can either use their keyboard or mouse to pan left and right with the camera.
- Describe View - announces all objects in the camera's view, by pressing the letter "i".
- Tab Navigation - moves the player's focus between objects in the world.
- Arrow Key or WASD keyboard navigation - used to move forward and backwards, and to turn left and right.
Typical Game Play without Sight
Typical game play by a blind player within the 3D world might work something like this:
- On entering a level the player listens to the list of objects to find on the level.
- Press the “L” key to announce accessibility features.
- Press the “H” key to announce game play instructions.
- Press the “Q” key to quiet the background music.
- Press “i” to activate Describe View and list objects currently in view, announcing their direction and distance from where the player currently stands.
- Pan left and right using the “A” and “D” keys, or use a mouse pointer, until an object is announced.
- Or, press the “Tab” key to move focus between objects in view.
- Press the “W” key to walk toward an announced object, bumping into it to interact.
- For opened dialog windows, like the diary or a puzzle window, pressing the “Escape” key, or pressing the “S” key to step back, dismisses the dialog.
- Again, press “i” to describe the objects in view from the new location.
- If no objects are in view, pan left or right, then press “i” again, until objects are announced.
- Doors also announce when using Describe View, to aid with finding entrances or exits.
- Exit and save the game by pressing the “E” key to open the Exit dialog.
- On exit, the player returns to the game menu, which now has the "Resume Saved" button active so the player can continue where they left off.
- The speech rate controller does not function in the WebGL version of the game. Speech may seem slow.
- By default, focus on the Menu screen should be on the menu. If focus is lost, reload the page to reset focus.
- Screen reader users must open the game, turn off their screen reader, then reload the game to start.