The Eerie Playground: Videogames and Autism

The Eerie Playground: Videogames and Autism

When the screams become overwhelming I hurry to the far end of the playground to hide. My vision seems to melt, and the ringing in my ears is so sharp that it hurts. All I can do is press my face against the fence and wait for it all to subside.

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As a woman with Autism, I knew about this before there ever was a study.
Video games helped me learn how to sit still, keep quiet, and concentrate.
They also improved my eye hand coordination so that I did not spill half my food on myself.
My brother has Autism too and we both still play video games.

Looking at game's footage I remember when I was in elementary on the playground I was always on the swings because not many kid were there, I was constantly bullied and they knew I would always be on the swings, I had no other place to go. It wasn't all slender man style of vision or anything but if we can teach people about this with games and help the people affected by it. It'll be a bright future.

I am very sensitive to loud noises, but I don't think I have ASD. However, if this game even vaguely depicts what it's like to live with it...dear Lord, you have my sympathies. I had to take my headphones off after only a couple of seconds of that infernal shrieking. I'm still shivering a little bit.

I have Aspergers, which I believe is a subset of ASD, but my case isn't nearly as severe as, say, what the average person would percieve as autism. That being said, I've had moments where basic social interactions can be extremely overwhelming and communication can seem impossible, and a medium like video games has definitely served as an excellent center. Regardless of what happens in my day to day life at the moment, as long as I can get back to blowing stuff up, I'll be happy. Naturally, I think a game like this is an excellent step forward, and I'm eager to play it. I'm curious if it'll be able to mimic my feeling of isolation in the same way that depression simulator had me getting back to my old thought patterns.

Am I the only one who is somewhat appaled that this therapute knew absolute bugger all about video games for the last TWENTY years?

I have every respect for these people, but the sheer ignorance about such an imporatant coping mechanism and potentionaly theraputic medium frankly has me baffled.

What an excellent idea and what an amazingly innovative use of game technology. Well done to the developers, Im really impressed and I think it should be something shown to school students etc.

Great article. My eldest son is spectrum (high functioning), and loves his video games. They're a good reward system for him as well. It was sheer hell when his therapist wanted us to take away the games because she was concerned with his ability to understand real world vs. virtual world. It's more therapeutic in his eyes to play an hour or so of video games than to try and talk about his feelings (which he has a lot of trouble articulating)

I couldn't play this game. I believe I mentioned it in the Brovengers chat when it was first released. I just couldn't take it, I had to stop within seconds of starting. My response to a normal version of that situation is to hide away within myself, I just couldn't take an exaggerated version.

Sad as it is, I feel so much safer on the internet. Chat getting too stressful? Close the window. Skype starting to hurt my head? Exit. Real life unfortunately doesn't have those options.

Edit: Don't get me wrong, it was very useful to try and explain how overwhelmed even simple things can feel sometimes, but for years I have been getting more confident and comfortable and then playing that stripped away every last layer of protection I had developed and left me feeling so vulnerable that I felt like I was having a panic attack.

Chairman Miaow:

Sad as it is, I feel so much safer on the internet. Chat getting too stressful? Close the window. Skype starting to hurt my head? Exit. Real life unfortunately doesn't have those options.

If it did, I don't think it'd be remotely as well-travelled.

Even the descriptions of this game make me want to avoid it. I don't have autism, but I know what it's like to be freaked out by normal circumstances and my senses are normally cranked to 11. Reality's already too fucked up for me, so upping the ante just seems like a bad idea. Especially since I will obsess over it if I do.

I have Asperger's, and I don't suffer the nasty reactions depicted here. Rather, for me it's more of a slow build-up, where they longer I'm outside with the normal folks, the more agitated I become. Video games for me are the perfect way to "re-centre" myself and be ready to face the world again much faster. I may be the only person on Earth who plays a game of solo queue LoL to calm down, but it works wonders.

Groenteman:
Am I the only one who is somewhat appaled that this therapute knew absolute bugger all about video games for the last TWENTY years?

I have every respect for these people, but the sheer ignorance about such an imporatant coping mechanism and potentionaly theraputic medium frankly has me baffled.

I would be more excited that it actually is being researched at all. Think about it: video games are just recently starting to gain a modicum of respect as anything other than Glycon, Demonic Corrupter of Youth in the media and general cultural consciousness. Research funding comes from organizations staffed by people who spent both their formative years and secondary education being marinated in that attitude, it should hardly be surprising that they weren't willing to put any resources into anything related to video games. Besides that, it is relatively easy to ignore parents' anecdotal evidence when it isn't backed by research (yes, I know, it's circular. I'm saying that's how it is, not that it makes any sense). Given the general inertia against any kind of academic research into video games that isn't conducted with the express intent of "proving that video games cause violence in children", I would say we should praise any progress rather than deride a backwards attitude.

As someone with Aspergers, I found playing Auti-Sim pretty accurate to my experiences. I never had it quite that intense ( though this is obviously more of a typical Autistim simulator), but it was fairly close. Being close to the loud noises and interacting with the source was actually preferable for me most of the time. being right up in the face of all the flailing and screaming could still be overwhelming, but the worst part was the background noise, screaming up over everything else and sounding very clear. Despite being pretty high-functioning I still need to either zone out completely or bring a friend with me (to talk to and keep my mind off it all) in order to go most places in public.

Branindain:
I have Asperger's, and I don't suffer the nasty reactions depicted here. Rather, for me it's more of a slow build-up, where they longer I'm outside with the normal folks, the more agitated I become.

Sounds exactly like what happens with me. Some days I'm fine making conversation, but other days I just can't take it anymore and have this immense urge to just run away from whoever I happen to be talking to. Asperger's is kind of a bummer.

As for the game itself, I looked at some videos of it in action on YouTube, and I have to say they did a pretty decent job. The only problem is that people seem to take the eardrum-splitting noise and noisy visuals at face value. It's more about a feeling of discomfort and the need to get away, and in that regard the game succeeds very well.

I should point out, of course, that this can only express a slice what it might look like to be autistic. It isn't the full spectrum, although clearly alot of thought was put into it. Also, to those who might see some of themselves in it: People have symptoms in life that are seen in autism, but neither do they all have them nor does it mean necessarily you have it unless otherwise diagnosed. I have it, and I know that this could be a reasonable account of a stronger form of autism than I do. A good effort, overall.

As someone with Asperger's, I have to say that this isn't even close to my experience. I never had any sensory hypersensitivity. Mine is all social and behavioral. I don't know how to act in social situations and I get claustrophobic in a group of people. I can't be around too many other people, especially people that I don't know. I don't think you can simulate that in a game.

Loud noises never bothered me but then this game happened and now I'm terrified of playgrounds because I think they'll be filled with screeching, demon children.

Okay, a number of people are commenting on the hypersensitivity issue, and how its not like their experience.

As far as I can tell, the reason for the loud noises and the awful visuals is to elicit a response from a well...normal person.

(...on a side note, my comment window is growing and growing constantly, without me even touching the enter key and with me being well, way up here. ...okay It seems to have stopped now that its gone halfway down the screen, but that was weird and just plain distracting.)

um, okay, where was I? Oh yes. Normal people. I do use that word because I don't know if its appropriate to be anything other than blunt. The game was meant to bring not autism...but some approximation of the experience of autism to somebody who is not autistic. So, sensory hypersensitivity is just a ham-fisted way to make people who aren't normally shy (let alone to a freaking VIDJA GAME CHARACTER) have to feel repelled and intimidated by what is, usually for them, not standardly intimidating.

So, when somebody on the autism spectrum plays the game, they get something of a double dose. "This is what we had to do to crack a neuro-typical person and make them not want to play with the other children." Its not SUPPOSED to look like real life, because somebody on the spectrum is ALREADY filtering real life through their challenges. The game is trying to be a surrogate frame of reference for the issue, and somebody who already has a frame of reference gets....double framed.

Xaos:

(...on a side note, my comment window is growing and growing constantly, without me even touching the enter key and with me being well, way up here. ...okay It seems to have stopped now that its gone halfway down the screen, but that was weird and just plain distracting.)

Same here. It's a little strange.

Xaos:
um, okay, where was I? Oh yes. Normal people. I do use that word because I don't know if its appropriate to be anything other than blunt.

Neuro-typical. Or as I've taken to calling my girlfriend "a damn dirty neuro-typ" ;)

This sim is probably more accurate for people with full autism as opposed to something like Asperger's. Asperger's got merged into the ASD but it doesn't really work like other types of autism. It's more of a socio-behavioral thing as opposed to a sensory overload thing. That would be nearly impossible to simulate unless you use transcranial magnetic stimulation to induce anxiety into the player.

Holy shit that game. As someone who knows next to nothing about autism, obviously the game isn't accurate. After all, I don't see kids with autism screaming holding their now bleeding ears on the ground after 4 seconds in a playground...I'll stop doing that in a few minutes.

BTW, no offence, but DICK MOVE escapist, when I played it, I had no idea what it was gonna do, and I had my good headphones on max. To make it worse, my computer is fairly shit, and lagged so bad the audio was taking ages to adjust on my computer, so the game was half frozen aside from that loud screeching. My ears were still hurting when I threw the headphones 3 meters away onto my bed. It was like those screamer troll videos on youtube but 3x as bad and it DOESN'T STOP D:

 

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