Accessibility is a major concern in game design, whether that be colour blind-friendly UI options or other ways to accommodate players with different physical abilities. Typically, there’s a hard limit to how far those options can go – you need use of your hands to use a controller or mouse, after all – but a new bit of software is letting disabled gamers play Minecraft purely through eye tracking.
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EyeMine comes courtesy of gaming charity SpecialEffect. It’s a fork of the open source OptiKey project, and it’s a free download available for anyone with Minecraft account. You’ll need a PC running Windows 7 or above, and the software is compatible with a wide variety of eye-tracking hardware, including much of the popular Tobii series.
Once installed, EyeMine adds a keyboard-style interface to the bottom of Minecraft players’ screens, letting them look at buttons to select walking, movement, and attack options, “clicking” on each either by lingering on the button or blinking. The basic option puts just a handful of actions on-screen at a time, but more advanced layouts make everything easily accessible at once.
“For us, EyeMine represents a watershed development,” says SpecialEffect CEO Dr. Mick Donegan. “It’s a flagship example of taking the experience we’ve gained through our one-to-one work with gamers with the most severe physical disabilities and translating it into a means of helping a huge number of people on a global scale.”