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The First Joy (part 3)

January 2015

Sunday night; greek voting night. People are simmering in the anticipation of the voting results – more crucial than many in the past few years. But in the SciFY office, things are running their own course. We did vote in the morning, but tonight we’re recording for the sound-based tic-tac-toe, the first game we made for blind children. On Tuesday the kids will test it. We’ll be ready. We can’t wait!

All levels of our research have proven that this is a necessity.

 Last time we talked to the kids, they were thrilled with the prospects, but they also said other valuable things that troubled us. They need to take it step by step, with a lot of support and guidance, if they are indeed to learn how to play tic-tac-toe. They need to get to know the space, the rules…

One more thing: Some of the kids are not only blind but they also have slight mental problems, which means they won’t be able to play at all; tic-tac-toe is too hard for them. If only there were even simpler games for their needs!

But our funding is too narrow, barely sufficient for a game of tic-tac-toe. And we’re running out of time.

 

What are we going to do? Are we going to leave some kids out of the games or are we only going to count on other people helping them overcome the obstacles?
 

Nah.

Not this team. Not now that we’ve come so far.

Our team’s work was remarkable. We were carried away by the passion.

We developed 5 games of gradual difficulty. Tic-tac-toe is the fifth and hardest one. For each game, we had to design it, write the code, test it, write the instructions, record them and retest the whole thing…

  We all designed the escalation of the games’ difficulty. Nikos did the impossible: he managed to create four more games. Kostas from the Ionian University sent us five different sound samples, so that the kids can choose which one serves them better.

 

On the election night, Aris and Nikos construct a “home-made” recording studio. Thodoris and Electra record the instructions. The kids can choose between two voices, boy or girl. They’ll be the kid’s guides; they’ll encourage them on their new journey.We are ready.

 

 

 Tuesday morning; the tests have begun.

 The kids are absorbed in trying to understand this new game. Some of them don’t even know what tic-tac-toe is, some have never even touched a computer before. Many of them are having a hard time, but they insist.

Their joy is unspeakable. And not only when they’re winning.

  

“Damn it, he beat me! Now I’ll show you!”

“Ha! I beat you! So easy!”
“Quick, go to the next level before the bell rings!”
“Sir, will you leave the game here so we can play?”
The joy in their eyes is the greatest reward for all of us.
  

Now I’m supposed to make questionnaires. Anyways…

The games scored great marks. Better than we had hoped. Of course some of the kids are very strict judges. Not everyone gave the games 9 or 10. (But even the “strict judges” asked to play again the next day.)

 

The first joy we got from our attempt overwhelmed us.

But I also have to share something that really got to us, a moment of true kindness and generosity; it was a lesson to us and it makes us want to keep going.

 

“Sir, can Anna take my place, because she’s been really looking forward to it and she won’t get to play before the bell rings?”

“Don’t you want to play?”

“Of course I do, but Anna has been really looking forward to it and she’ll get upset.”

“Darling, you’re wonderful! I promise you that not only will we give you all the game, but we’ll also make two more.”

“Yay!”

 

Kids, thank you for everything.

 

 

(We also want to thank many people for their contribution and participation; we especially want to thank Mr. Filippos Katsoulis, Director of theSpecial Primary School for the Blind (Kallithea, Athens), Mrs. Rena Tsagardanou and Mrs. Maria Panigiraki for their valuable help throughout this attempt. We will keep working together to develop more fascinating solutions.)

 

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