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Developer recreates autistic experience in video game

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Auti-Sim (Credit: Taylan Kay)

While there's no shortage of video games that focus on shooting, dragons and fast cars, some game makers aren’t afraid to tackle weightier issues.

A developer in Vancouver has crafted a simulation of what life is like for people with autism in an effort to raise awareness about the condition and help educate people about what it’s like for those suffering its effects.

Taylan Kay, with the help of two team members, developed the game "Auti-Sim" in just 12 hours as part of the Vancouver Hacking Health Hackathon. The title is meant less for entertainment, as you might expect, and more to help people empathize with the condition of hypersensitivity, a common symptom of those who have autism.

The game, which is meant to be played online, casts players as a hypersensitive child wandering around a playground. Other kids are going about their business, but when the player gets too close to the crowd, the experience becomes overwhelming. Laughter becomes painfully loud and faces blur and become distorted. The only way to escape is to move to a more secluded area of the playground.

While Auti-Sim was created in a short period and is really little more than a demo at this point, Kay and his team say they’re planning to create a full version that will be made available freely. The game will also showcase a number of other symptoms autism patients must deal with. Kay plans to meet with autism organizations to ensure they get things right, but he’s also drawing from personal experience, as a family member was afflicted with a similar disorder.

“[It's] an invisible challenge,” Kay told ABC News, “in that sense I do have a firsthand experience in how it can get in the way of having a normal life.”

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