12 Jul 2022

VR and Autism

Autistic people play more video games than neurotypical people for a variety of reasons – the sense of escape, the level of control, the reassuring predictability of something built on patterns and numbers.

VR, however, takes it to a whole new level.

Because VR is so immersive, it is easier for the autistic player to leave the real world behind and commit to an experience where even the most basic interactions are satisfying. Just turning your head to look around is amazing. Seeing your hands in the game, using them to point, push, lift or throw as you would normally is incredible.

For the autistic player, this easy access to VR is especially important. It gives the confidence just to be there, to enjoy the change in location without feeling any pressure to learn how to act or behave.

But then comes the game itself, which can be less easy.

We spoke to one autistic player, who actually is a game designer, who got stuck because the game required him to jump a virtual ravine. He just couldn’t do it and there was no way around it, so he couldn’t carry on.

In an ideal world, the game would make allowances for his autism. Or better still, why not design a game especially for the autistic person, where every feature and character and interaction is designed with them in mind, allowing them to get the maximum out of the VR experience?

So that’s what we decided to do.