Sunday, September 7, 2014

Space Owl - A free vision therapy video game

Play Space Owl here

It's long been my dream to create a vision therapy video game.... And I've finally learned enough about computer programming to make it happen!

Here's the result...

A game about an owl in space!

  • Modern, up-to-date web browser
    • I've tested it on Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. It works on all three, although the menu looks a little uglier on IE.
    • I haven't tested it with Safari (because I don't have a Mac handy), but it's supposed to work with Safari. If there are any bugs, please let me know.
    • This game uses HTML5, which requires the latest versions of web browsers.
  • Red/blue or red/green vision therapy glasses

  • Collect gems
  • Avoid enemies
  • When enough gems have been collected, you gain a point
  • When you gain a point, something cool happens!
  • Try to gain as many points as possible before time runs out

  • Color calibration
  • Adjustable game speed
  • Adjustable time limit
  • Binocular OR monocular
  • Two color palettes

Color Calibration
To calibrate the colors to your specific glasses and computer monitor, just follow the easy color calibration instructions.

Fully Adjustable
Adjust the speed and time limit of the game to suit your needs.

Binocular or Monocular
This game can be used for binocular vision therapy exercises, requiring both eyes, or for monocular vision therapy activities, focusing on one eye. Just change the settings in the options menu.

Two Color Palettes
You can play with Red Blue graphics or Purple Teal graphics.

BOTH palettes work with your standard anaglyph glasses. Through your glasses, the Red Blue graphics have a white-on-black appearance, while the Purple Teal have a black-on-white appearance.

Try both options and see which you prefer. Depending on your monitor, you may have better cancellation with one palette vs the other.

Vision Therapy Goals
My main goals for this game are:
  • Anti-suppression
  • Forcing both eyes to work together
Some graphics in the game can only be seen with the right eye. Some graphics can only been seen with the left eye. Therefore, both eyes are forced to work together to complete the game. If both eyes are not used together, then the game is impossible.
Some secondary vision therapy goals that may be addressed by this game are:
  • tracking the player around the screen
  • estimating distances between player, enemies, gems
  • soft, peripheral focus when paying attention to incoming gems and enemies
  • saccades when glancing around screen to look how many points you have or to see the time remaining

Visual Anchors
Sometimes gems appear that can be seen by both eyes. This gives each eye an "anchor" to lock on to, and can make accurate fusion easier.

The game provides feedback when the player does something good or makes a mistake. When the player collects a gem, a nice sound effect plays. When the player collides with an enemy, a bad sound effect plays AND the player and all enemies become temporarily visible to both eyes.

Above, you can see in the second frame that, when the player collides with an enemy, the players and the enemies turn white, becoming visible to both eyes. This gives the player feedback about where his/her eyes were really pointing.

"Loading" is a term for adding increased layers of difficulty to a vision therapy activity. This "shakes up" the visual system, and forces the brain to adapt and learn new skills. I have tried to "shake up" this game in the following ways:

  • The direction that enemies and gems fall from changes periodically, creating a shifting and unstable environment. The player must constantly adapt. Enemies and gems may come from above, below, left, or right.
  • After a collision between the player and the enemy, there is a chance for the player and the enemies to swap colors. Suddenly, the blue player may turn red, and the red enemies may turn blue. The graphics visible to the right eye are now only visible to the left eye, and vice versa. Therefore, the player cannot get too comfortable and must learn to adapt.
Above, you can see that after the player has collided with the enemies, the colors of the player and enemies have swapped.

In conclusion
You still need to do vision therapy exercises in real space, moving your eyes and body around together, focusing on different distances, converging, diverging, etc... But now you have the option to play a fun video game, too. Please leave any comments or suggestions below, I would love to hear what you think about the game and how you are using it. I'm still tweaking it, and maybe I'll add music. But please, check it out and use it :)

Play Space Owl here