We exchanged email addresses with the kids, hugged and teased each other and left really moved. But this is certainly not how it had started a few hours earlier. Well, let’s take it from the beginning. First things first.
The girl is the third one I am interviewing today. She seems very young. She is blind, and one of her eyes is totally closed.
- “What’s your name?” I ask.
- “Cyclops”*, she says. Well, that’s an icebreaker.
- “Yep, Cyclops. I kept an extra eye for the symmetry, just for beauty.”
Well, I ‘ll risk playing along.
- “You did well. OK, Cyclops, how old are you? “
Boy, she is really kidding me. She seems a lot younger.
- “Yes, sure… And you are doing what? Playing goalball like Alexandra?”
- “No, I want my life, thank you very much. I am a sociology student. Really.”
- “Really? And I am the prince of Zamunda.”
Fortunately, a friend who knows her steps in.
- “She is telling the truth. She is 19 and studying sociology.”
She is looking at me with that teasing smile again.
- “Told ya. So, are we playing or what?”
Well, she is fantastic. The effort she must have done to get there, so young, despite her blindness, is beyond my comprehension. What I get though, is that she likes nagging me. I can live with that. I do this all the time to other people.
- “OK Cyclops, why don’t you start playing and see how good you are in playing computer games? By the way, what’s your real name?”
- “Claire. Let me see your boring game.”
I am there for another round of testing Tennis, the second game for blind children SciFY is developing. Testing the first game, Tic-Tac-Toe, has been very moving, but today, is a totally different experience.
She puts on the earphones, starts playing the tutorial, gets it very fast, starts playing the game and reaches a very high score, higher than all the other kids. By far.
- “Well, what do you think of the game, Claire?”
- “It’s awful.”
- “OK, awful.” I am keeping notes.’’
- “I am kidding. It’s great.”
- “Why do you say that?”
- “Well, for starters, my brother used to play football on the computer, and I couldn’t. I couldn’t play with him and always envied him for this. Now I can play, too.”
We talked and talked, beyond the needs of the interview. About the difficulties she faces, about the lack of support, about the next games she wants us to develop. We talked with the other kids, as well. But always teasing each other. And making fun of the people who can see.
- “Can I hug you?” I asked the kids.
- “Come over here, old guy!”
We will certainly be seeing each other again.
We hugged, thanked each other, and left.
But what we lived there with Claire, Alexandra, and the rest of the kids, stays in our heart.
And the things in our heart drive our passion for creating new games for the blind.
We owe it to them!
Certain elements of the story, such as the kids’ names and the fields of study have been altered to protect their anonymity.
* Cyclops (in Greek mythology) was a was a member of a race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of his forehead. The name literally means "round-eyed" or "circle-eyed".