It seems to me that the video games we see today are focused more on how far they can push the envelope, with Hollywood style plot lines, than providing anything of real, redeeming value to the gamer, which spends hours of his or her time transfixed on their computer screen or television. Video games that are able to provide a beneficial aspect to a persons’ livelihood have largely been left on the R and D cutting room floor.
More unfortunate, is that these kinds of video game are stuck to only been brainstormed about, by progressive thinkers, in that coffee shop “what if” sequence of idealistic hope. Enter Bill Mueller, President of Vision Audio Inc., creator of the Electronic Auditory Stimulation Effect (EASe) Audio CD’s and video games. Mueller efforts are connecting many imperative dots.
From the process of researching the EASe series of video games, I was very impressed. Recently, I able to conduct an exclusive, in-depth interview with the acclaimed entrepreneur. What came out in my interview with Mueller is an impressive look inside an altruistic inventor.
The latest title, to be released by the Electronic Auditory Stimulation Effect is Funhouse Treasure Hunt. This game, which I reviewed at first hand, is currently being shown as an effective therapy tool for the hypersensitive child with autism who battles sensory challenges on a daily basis. After testing the disks for myself, it is easy to see why therapists and parents alike have given them high accolades.
Prior to this endeavor, Mueller paved his success in the entertainment industry. As a highly accomplished and respected sound engineer Mueller has been nominated for a Grammy, worked with over one hundred-fifty major recording artists, including The Who, engineered audio for Presidents Reagan and Bush, and even developed a computer programs for NASA.
Mueller’s advocacy for children experiencing abnormalities of the brain and his in depth studies in the field of psychoacoustics led him to creation of the first EASe audio CD’s. The tie-in comes as these CD’s deliver short, intense bursts of sensory experiences. These bursts stimulate without over-stimulating a child who experiencing difficulty with sensory processing and organization.
Mueller better explains what the therapy treats; “We all habituate to noise, and we do it so smoothly we don’t even notice it. A good example would be if we were standing on the street corner and a taxicab drives right up to the corner and hits his screechy brakes; the first time we hear this, we may jump. The second screechy cab drives up, our brains will have habituated the sound and we will not be as startled. The child with auditory hypersensitivity issues that occur with Autism can’t make those habituation calls, and every time that cab screeches up, that child has a fight or flight reaction that is uncontrollable, to the point they will eventually shut down all sound when the one sound is heard.”
Mueller recalls the origins of the EASe games,“ We kept getting calls from parents asking us if their child could play video games while they were listening to the EASe Audio CD’s ;those requests and the appeal that computers have with a good portion of Autistic children.”
The passionate entrepreneur, continued by saying, I just knew that there could be something that could combine the elements, and be even more beneficial to child.” Since that time, six EASe games have been released for PC, most recently “Funhouse Treasure hunt”.
Inside the Game
Within a fun and positive environment, the video games use driving formats and open world areas to encourage the gamer to explore. There are no negative consequences for not doing as the game dictates. To win or losing is not key. Having fun is the true objective.
One of the big things a gamer-parent will notice is the positive reinforcement that is given when a classic driving game mistake is made. For example, when playing the Funhouse Treasure Hunt video game, driving off of a ledge or into a wall yields a slapstick comedy type sound effect.
The games contribute to the therapy as Mueller explains by “stimulating and challenging the virtual-vestibular, visual, and auditory triad of sensory pathways to reinforce and promote appropriate response to sound and reinforce balance.”
One of the ways this is done is by giving the gamer complete control over the viewing angle and vehicle movement. This presents the gamer with multiple tasks to keep in mind while playing. Overall, the game represents a completely unique therapeutic experience for children with autism. It is a fulfilling departure from what electronic gaming is almost always about: mindless entertainment.
For Mueller, the biggest focus is on making games that are not only entertaining, but offer some kind of contribution to society.
Mueller said, “ For me, it’s about leaving something behind that is positive and can help some children who need it.”
Further Details: EASe games like “Funhouse Treasure hunt” are sold at the affordable price of $39.99, and can be purchased at www.easecd.com.