An Approach to Accessible Serious Games for People with Dyslexia
1.1. Accessibility for Dyslexia
1.2. Sustainability for People with Disabilities
- Goal 4. Quality Education. Obtaining a quality education is the basis for improving people’s lives as well as for sustainable development. It seeks to provide lifelong learning opportunities for all. Furthermore, it focuses on ensuring equitable access to all levels of vocational education and training for vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities.
- Goal 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth. Achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all people, including people with disabilities, allows people to dramatically improve their lives. It also seeks to generate equal pay for work of equal value.
- Goal 10. Reduce Inequalities. In order to reduce inequality, the application of universal policies that also pay special attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations, including people with disabilities, has been recommended.
- Goal 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities. Seeking that cities and human settlements are inclusive, safe and sustainable. This can be achieved by proposing a safe, affordable, accessible transport system, paying special attention to the needs of vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities. In addition, it proposes universal access to green and safe spaces, inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities.
- Goal 17. Partnerships for the Goals. Highlighting that to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, data collection and the monitoring and accountability of the SDGs are essential.
2. Method and Materials
2.1. Accessibility Guidelines for People with Dyslexia
- Use simple language. Using a very specific language may cause the player to not understand the instructions to interact with a video game. For this reason, it is recommended to use a language that allows to tell a simple and easy-to-follow story and set aside terms that most players cannot understand [47,48,49].
- Subtitles. Also known as Captions, especially for people with hearing disabilities but also for people with dyslexia [50,51], have become an essential feature. The incorporation of subtitles in video games allows players to have a more pleasant experience in the history of the video game, as well as allowing them to receive instructions in a clearer way [47,48].
- Simple to difficult progression. Commonly used, allow the modification of degrees of difficulty to a greater extent than usual in games. For example, for real time strategy games, add a speed slider or allow the game to change to a turn mode .
- Training levels. Another important feature, allow the player to function in an environment free of all the complexities of the video game. There are players with different types of disabilities who may feel frustrated when playing in a real environment. That is why training levels allow the player to strengthen skills within the game .
- Objectives reminder during gameplay. Sometimes during the development of a video game it is difficult to remember the objective that must be achieved or what must be done, especially for people with memory problems or who need to take a break between the sessions of the video game. For this reason it is important to include reminders of the objectives of the video game permanently, when the player requests it or from time to time in specific .
- Use explicit visual rewards. People with different learning disabilities require receiving explicit visual or auditory rewards, either for animation or video, as motivation to keep their attention in the video game. This feature will allow the player’s skills to increase and motivate them to reach new video game challenges .
- Possibility for repetition. It is advisable to incorporate the possibility of repeating voice messages or texts within a video game. The repetition feature is used by players when dialogues or texts are difficult to follow .
- Pause while text is being readed. In a video game, it is helpful to pause, or even repeat, the execution of a text. This feature gives players more time to read the instructions or dialogues of the video game .
- Color pairs. These are the background/font color combinations recommended for dyslexia, these are: white/black, off-white/off-black, yellow/black, white/blue, cream/black, light green/brown dark, dark green/brown, yellow/white and yellow/blue . The combination off-white/off-black is the most recommended for dyslexia in the area of web accessibility [54,55].
- Justified text. It is recommended avoid to use a justify alignment in the text. This can cause rivers of blank space .
2.2. Serious Game Design
- Test Design: Serious game ability to set difficulty.
- Execute test suite: There is only one difficulty mode so the user cannot configure it.
- Normalization: An option to choose the difficulty of serious games is added in the general settings. This configuration allows you to choose initial, intermediate and expert levels.
- Test passed?: New functionality has been successfully incorporated.
- Refactoring: Erasing redundancies and inconsistencies, always checking that the tests continue to validate well.
- Test Finished?: Yes, to implement the following requirement.
- Immersion: The video game allows to maintain a sense of entertainment, as well as that the player is part of the game scene.
- Identity: The player obtains an identity by being part of the video game by recording their progress activity in each game.
- Interactivity: The player interacts every time he performs an action within the video game. In this way, it drags the elements it considers appropriate to solve the challenges.
- Control: As it is a mobile video game, the controls it uses are embedded in the device screen.
- Challenge: The video game maintains different levels of complexity. This feature allows maintaining a challenging environment for the players.
- Narrative: The video game maintains the narrative through the sequence of challenges.
- Feedback: The video game offers visual feedback for each challenge that the player solves. In this way it tells you if the challenge was solved properly or not and how best to solve it.
3. Case Study
- Game Title: Puzzle Pieces. In Figure 2, we can see the serious game logo.
- Intended game systems: Android OS from version 4.1 “Jelly Bean” to the current one. Keep in mind that Unity also allows compatibility to run applications with the following operating systems:
- Windows 7 or higher, Ubuntu 16.04 or higher.
- MAC macOS 10.12 or higher.
- IOS 9.0 or higher.
- WebGL any recent version of Firefox, Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Safari.
- Target age of players: 5 to 10 years.
- ESRB classification: eC (early childhood) as it is a video game with educational aspects for young audiences without any inappropriate content.
- Game story summary: The main objective of this serious game is to present two games, one called Order Cards, and another one called Complete Words. Each game has simple challenges to test the player’s skill. As each challenge is solved, the scores are accumulated and data is generated for later analysis. The purpose is to generate a tool for learning and treatment aimed at children with dyslexia in order to evaluate and improve therapies for various cognitive functions. To achieve this objective, the information received from the serious game is captured and stored within a database server in real time, to later be visualized and analyzed in graphics by the doctors to carry out the personalized treatment sessions.
- Game Flow: This section describes in detail the performances and requirements that meet the scenes and games that make up Puzzle Pieces:
- Login: In this scene the user can authenticate. The user will be asked to enter personal data of an account previously created in the game, the username or ID, and the password. In case that the user do not have an account, there will be an option to register and create an account that will be stored on the database server in real time in order to proceed in the game. In the same way, it will be validated that the user enters information in all fields or that they enter the correct information. Otherwise, they will be notified with error messages such as “No username or password has been entered” or “Username or password wrong”. The login section is showed in Figure 3. All the images of the serious game are in Spanish, but they are accompanied by the English translation.
- Register: In this scene, the user can create an account to enter the game, in order to track their performance in the puzzles and perform personalized treatments for each user. Personal information of the user is requested such as name, gender, age, username, password, and password verification. It will be validated that the user enters all the requested data, otherwise the account will not be created and an error message will be displayed. The register section is showed in Figure 4.
- Main Menu: In the main menu, the user will have four options. The first is the “GAMES” button, which will open a new menu where the user can choose the game they want to play. The second option is the “CONFIGURATION” button, where another menu will open to make some settings in the game that will be discussed later. The third option is the “EXIT” button, which closes the game. The last option is the “CLOSE SESSION” button, which returns the user to the login menu to log in with another or the same account. The main menu section is showed in Figure 5.
- Game menu: The game menu simply allows the user to choose between the game Order Cards and the game Complete Words. It also has a button to return to the main menu in case the user wishes to make any configuration changes. The game menu section is showed in Figure 6.
- Order Cards: The logic of the card game is as follows. From a deck of 40 different cards, the user will be presented with a number of cards taken randomly. The indication will be to observe the cards carefully in order to memorize them. After a while, the cards will be turned around and placed in a new random position. Subsequently, the user must place the cards in the empty spaces with the first order presented. The user must place all the cards correctly to win the game as we can see in Figure 7.The cognitive areas worked on in this game are: memory, visual discrimination, attention and planning.
- Complete Words: The mechanics of this game consist of a group of images with objects. Four images are randomly selected, one for each round, and will be presented to the user on the right side as shown in Figure 8. On the left side, there will be 18 random letters, taking into account that the letters required to complete the word in the image that appears. Additionally, at the beginning of each round, an audio will play with the name of the object of the image. In addition, there is a button below the image, which will play an audio with the name of the object as a hint. To win the game, the player must form the word in the image correctly. It is important to emphasize that the selection criteria of the objects for this serious game is based on double syllables or inverse syllables that are part of common patterns of mistakes and behaviors in reading and spelling that people with dyslexia have .The cognitive areas worked on in this game are: phonological awareness, attention, auditory and visual discrimination, semantic awareness, executive function, spatial location and visual perception.
- Order Letters
- Initial: 3 cards will be displayed, with 15 s to learn the card order.
- Medium: 4 cards will be displayed, with 15 s to learn the card order.
- Advanced: 6 cards will be displayed, with 20 s to learn the card order.
- Complete Words
- Initial: Objects with 5 letters will be displayed.
- Medium: Objects with 6 letters will be displayed.
- Advanced: Objects with 8 letters will be displayed.
- Each game has four rounds that the user must successfully overcome to finish the game.
- In each game when filling in all blank spaces available, two things happen:
- If the spaces are filled in correctly, a message of congratulations with a positive sound is displayed, and the next round begins until the end of the game.
- If the spaces are filled incorrectly, an error message with a negative sound will be displayed, and the letters or cards will be returned to their initial positions.
- When completing a game, a window will be shown to the user with a message of congratulations and a victory music will play, in this window the user can choose one of three options:
- Go to the next level of difficulty in a new game. If at the end of the game the player is in the highest difficulty, this option will not appear.
- The player can restart the game, this means that a new game will start with the same difficulty.
- Exit to the main menu.
- When a player completes a game, several data are collected and sent to the server of the serious game database, which will then be analyzed by the therapist. The data collected from the games are necessary statistics such as: time in seconds (that took the player to complete the four rounds), number of hits, number of errors, game difficulty, name of the game, and the ID of the user.
- Each game has the option to pause (when pausing a blur effect is enabled so that the user cannot cheat) and return to the main menu at any time.
- When dragging a card or letter, if it is not released inside or near a blank space, it will return to its initial position. If a card or letter is placed within a blank space, another card or letter cannot be placed on top of it and will return to its initial position.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|API||Application Programming Interface|
|SDGs||Sustainable Development Goals|
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|Inability to follow a story|
|Inability to complete a task or puzzle|
|Inability to figure out how the game is played|
|Inability to use adaptive hardware|
|The player’s character is repeatedly|
injured/killed in the video game.
|In both games, the user does not identify|
when a new round begins in the game.
|Place a “Label” in the user interface|
in which the current round is shown,
and the number of total rounds.
|In the game Order Cards,|
the user cannot re-observe the first order of the cards,
causing the user to get stuck
if they cannot memorize the order.
|Add a mechanic, in which if the user fails two times,|
the first order of the cards is shown again
so that the user has the opportunity
to memorize them correctly again.
|In the Complete Words In the game Complete Words game,|
the user finds it difficult to select the desired letter.
|Enlarge the touch range to select|
and drag the letters of the word.
|If the user configures the volume of the game sounds,|
the audio of the words will also be affected to give the
user a clue.
|Configure the sound controls so that|
the volume of the audio of the Complete Words puzzle is
always at maximum.
|In both games, the user cannot read the congratulations|
or error messages in the rounds of the games.
|Make messages show longer time before disappearing.|
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Jaramillo-Alcázar, A.; Venegas, E.; Criollo-C, S.; Luján-Mora, S. An Approach to Accessible Serious Games for People with Dyslexia. Sustainability 2021, 13, 2507. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052507
Jaramillo-Alcázar A, Venegas E, Criollo-C S, Luján-Mora S. An Approach to Accessible Serious Games for People with Dyslexia. Sustainability. 2021; 13(5):2507. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052507Chicago/Turabian Style
Jaramillo-Alcázar, Angel, Eduardo Venegas, Santiago Criollo-C, and Sergio Luján-Mora. 2021. "An Approach to Accessible Serious Games for People with Dyslexia" Sustainability 13, no. 5: 2507. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052507