'I play Minecraft with my eyes'

Software has been developed that enables people with severe physical disabilities to play Minecraft using only their eyes.

Becky and EyeMine
Becky Tyler with gaming hero Yogscast YouTuber Lewis Brindley. Credit: SpecialEffect
The BBC shared a video of 15-year-old Becky playing the popular video game using EyeMine software. This was developed by the gamers’ charity SpecialEffect. SpecialEffect is made up of a team of therapists and games technology specialists who help people with a physical disability play video games. The new software is just one part of the charity’s work – SpecialEffect has helped children as young as three-years-old and it can be contacted by anyone with a physical disability, for example as a result of an accident or stroke. A number of people with physical disabilities helped in the development and testing of the Eyemine software. One of them is Becky (pictured), who has severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy and is unable to control the muscles in her body. This makes playing games near impossible. The charity tailors the support to the individual’s abilities rather than the condition. Once assessed, occupational therapists check things like seating and positioning in relation to modifications recommended. This film shows its work. Sharon, mother of Ben, said: “SpecialEffect have been a lifeline for my son Ben. When he developed a left-sided weakness from his brain tumour, a lot of his hobbies became too difficult and so he stopped doing them, including playing his beloved Xbox. “He could no longer move the controls; as a 14 year-old boy this was devastating not least because it was also a way of socialising with friends. “Being referred to SpecialEffect was a real turning point for Ben. He has been robbed of so much by his illness, but thanks to SpecialEffect he is playing his Xbox again and enjoying it as much as ever.” Popular computer games the organisation works on include FIFA, Football Manager, Call of Duty, MineCraft and Team Fortress. It also helps with games like computer chess or sudoku – and even switch-operated ball throwers for playing with a dog. SpecialEffects explains the benefits of video games: ‘The greatest benefit is inclusion. Being able to join in with friends and family (and beat them!) is priceless for self-esteem and independence.’ Talking about EyeMine, Dr Mick Donegan, Founder and CEO, said: “For us, EyeMine represents a watershed development. 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.” Windows-based EyeMine is free to download for anyone with a Minecraft account and works with a number of suitable eye-trackers. It can be made compatible with any eye tracker that can control a mouse pointer. 
Share page
Print page
Follow us