For the past year and a half, students in Butler University’s EPICS class (Engineering Projects in Community Service) have been working with Recreational Therapists at Sycamore Services to develop a video game for teenagers with autism to help them develop appropriate social skills. Each semester, the students working on the project change and new students pick up where the previous group left off. While the project is still a work in progress, it is now one or two semesters away from being finished and it is reaching the point where it can be trialed with recreational therapy program participants to get their feedback.

Sycamore Services Recreational Therapist, Susan Norman, has taken the lead on the project and says, “The purpose is to make an age-appropriate game for teenagers that need to learn more appropriate social skills. We ask them to work on things such as recognizing facial cues and understanding them,  how to maintain eye contact, using appropriate voice tone and appropriate conversational skills.  The game being developed requires the individual player to choose the appropriate options/responses, in order to advance in the game. The game can be set up to require the individual to recognize facial features, such as eye color, to ensure they were paying attention to the person they were interacting with.”

The English Department at Butler University has also played a role in the game development by helping create a story as the background for the game and conversations that can take place. The biggest part of the game that still needs to be developed is the conversational scenarios that will be added by next semester’s students.

Butler University has been great to work with on this project and they have reached out to local media to share the story about the development of the, so far, unnamed video game for Sycamore Services. To learn more about the project, see these related news articles: