On May 15th The University of Abertay in Dundee are launching the Abertay Digital Graduate Show 2020, an online showcase of the creative works of its students. Abertay is known worldwide as a centre of excellence in the field of videogame development, and there will no doubt be games on display. Of those games one stands apart as relevant to a blind or visually impaired gamer, and that game is FHear by Alasdair Marnoch.
Alasdair is a visually impaired student of the University of Abertay’s Sound and Music for Games undergraduate degree course, and is aiming for a career as the audio designer for a game development studio. This was a natural fit for him, given his musical background and interest in games:
“I grew up playing the violin and piano so I guess you could say that music has always been a passion of mine. I’ve always enjoyed playing computer games and have loved learning about how sound and music are used within the computer games industry whilst at university.”
His graduate show game, FHear, is a horror-themed audiogame, a videogame that is playable through audio alone. There is no need for sight to be able to play and enjoy the game and experience everything it has to offer. It is influenced by the popular adventure audiogame “A Blind Legend” and the “Dead Space” and “Slenderman” horror series’ of videogames. In FHear the player finds themselves stranded in a dark forest and must use their hearing to identify the direction of a guide and escape the pursuit of a malevolent creature. The sense of fear and foreboding is heightened by the music, which grows more intense as the creature gets nearer.
Early in the project Alasdair did not initially seek to make a game that was playable by blind people. However, during development he realised that he was creating something that was accessible to players without sight. He intended to introduce his project tohis local VI organisation, Dundee Blind & Partially Sighted Society, but due to the Covid-19 outbreak restrictions this was not possible. Thankfully, with the graduate show being held entirely online everyone can experience FHear.
Alasdair’s game, along with many other student graduate projects, can be found at the Abertay Digital Graduate Show website on March 15th.