A new game has been developed by a team of students at the University of Southern California to help children with autism.
The game, called Social Clues, teaches children how to listen to others, make eye contact and recognize the emotions of other people, according to Gamespot. The team includes 35 students with backgrounds in design and engineering.
Players can take on the role of either particiPETE or communiKATE. They must interact with characters in virtual depictions of real-world settings as they embark on a journey to find their lost toys. USC said that while playing the game, the children will "learn the dos and don'ts of social interaction."
There is a scene in the game where a vending machine is out of apple juice, and a virtual parrot named Sherlock teaches the players the importance of making eye contact with people by telling them that they need to look at someone in the eye to get juice, Polygon reported.
"What we're trying to do is break down everyday interactions into something very understandable, very manageable," said Jeremy Bernstein, project lead and USC Marshall School of Business student. "We're basically giving our players a road map they can use offline."
Bernstein came up with the game for kids with autism and developmental disabilities with his wife, speech language pathologist Karen Okrent.
Information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that almost 1 out of 68 children have autism spectrum disorder. USC said the data is evidence that the need for a game such as Social Clues "has never been greater", Gamespot reported.
USC developers met with over a dozen autistic children and therapists while making the game. The team used feedback from these working sessions to make changes to the game's user interface, such as adding bright colors, big buttons and simple characters.
Social Clues is currently in development at the USC Games program, Polygon reported.
The game is currently being developed for the iPad first, but will soon be released for other devices.