The National Mall

I went down to the Renwick Gallery in DC a few days ago to see the exhibit WONDER, which lived up to its name. While in the area, I got to listen to the album/app/experience "The National Mall" by DC-based Bluebrain. 

In the physical world, the National Mall is a wide expanse of open space anchored by the Capitol building to the East and the Lincoln Memorial to the West, surrounded by iconic Smithsonian museums and US civic institutions. The National Mall is also location-aware musical composition, a self-contained iOS app that uses your GPS to determine your location and only plays when you're on the Mall.  

As you walk along the Mall, the ambient soundtrack shifts to reflect your changing location, blending seamlessly from one locale to another. The promo video includes some of the musical tracks in their appropriate locations. It makes for a lovely and immersive experience.

iOS games for the blind (and the sighted), Halloween edition

Are we entering the golden age of gaming? Seems like we're just beginning to explore new ways of interacting with games as entertainment, as narrative, as yet-undefined cultural touchstone. In addition to the usual platforms, now almost everyone carries a powerful game engine in their pocket. 

And game-makers are rising to the challenge. Consider that there is a growing field of games that lack visual elements, using only sound to create the game environment. That is incredibly cool. Admittedly, navigating the game "blind" is pitched as scary and isolating in some cases, which might be true for sighted players but isn't necessarily the case for blind ones. Still, it jives with a Halloween theme. I'm going to try out some of these and report back.

Papa Sangre - An adventure game in which you navigate a Day of the Dead style afterlife. NOTE: I tried "Papa Sangre II", and as of the end of October 2015, it doesn't appear to work on the latest update for iOS on the iPhone. Avoid until they fix the issue.

The Nightjar - You are trapped on a spaceship falling toward a black hole, with Benedict Cumberbatch. Well, Benedict Cumberbatch provides voice talent. 

Audio Defense: Zombie Arena - Use 360-degree audio clues to shoot attacking zombies. Looks like there are some visual aspects to this game, which the iPhone's VoiceOver tech handles for blind users. 

BlindSide - You wake up to find yourself blind, your city destroyed by unknown forces. Try to survive, navigating only by sound.