capAbility Games Research Project: Special Presentation

Demonstration during Game Symposium in the Biotechnology Center Auditorium lobby

The capAbility Games project is a collaborative effort between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students under the direction of Associate Professor of Integrated Arts, Kathleen Ruiz and the Center for Disability Services Adult Day Services Division. The goal of the project is to create a series of simulated learning environments or serious games for individuals with disabilities to have an alternative and fun way to learn skills related to independence in their daily lives. While it is hoped that many daily activities could eventually be part of the skill sets for the simulations, the pilot is a grocery shopping trip where an individual with disabilities shops for a meal based on a meal plan and shopping list. An interdisciplinary group of Rensselaer student artists, engineers, computer scientists, IT professionals, and cognitive scientists have created a "virtual cave" type of environment based on the layout of a local Price Chopper store where you actually feel as if you are an individual in a wheelchair maneuvering down a grocery aisle and choosing your purchases. The plan is to adapt this with a variety of accesses so that people with various disabilities can use it as an additional learning tool. The current prototype uses a joystick.  Many thanks to Price Chopper for their cooperation with this project and for the scavenging ability of the participants in finding needed equipment with little resources. It is hoped that the prototype will be of assistance in finding resources to continue this important project.

capAbility Games Research Project Web Site 

Paricipant Bios

Kathleen Ruiz is an Associate Professor of Integrated Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she develops and teaches courses in simulation, experimental game design, and digital photography. She is a founding member of the ErGoGenics Game Research Group and the CapAbility Games Research Project. Kathleen is an internationally exhibiting media artist who explores perception, behavior, and interaction. Ruiz poses questions about the oxymoron of virtual violence, catharsis, and desensitization in simulated space. Her doctoral work is an investigates the use of simulation to experience multiple viewpoints while challenging us to simultaneously perceive perspectives of the observer, the observed and the process of observation. 

Mary Kim Purcell is the Deputy Executive Director of Adult Day Services at the Center for Disability Services. She has a BS in Child Development from the State University College at Oneonta and a MSEd in Special Education from the College of St. Rose. Technology for individuals with disabilities is vital for those served within the Center's Adult Services programs and the collaboration with the faculty and students at RPI is a dream come true. Mary Kim also has a son Braedan who is an Interactive Media and Game Design Student at WPI and keeps her "in the loop" of what goes on in the gaming world.

Mary Hooper is the Administrative Director of Vocational Services at the Center for Disability Services.  She earned a BS and MS in Special Education at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York.  Keeping up with changes in modern technology, and offering state of the art technological opportunities for our consumers, is both exciting and challenging in this fast paced world. The partnership with R.P.I. is an extremely exciting time for us as we all need to be able to think out of the box to create new opportunities and creative services.

Dick May is the Program Coordinator for the Technology Center with in the Adult Day Services at the Center for Disability Services. He has an Associates Degree from Tompkins Cortland Community College in Human Services. Dick has seen the amazing benefit adaptive technology has had for people with physical challenges over the years and feels very fortunate to join forces with R.P.I. on the capAbility gaming project. He is also part of the team that works on capAbility Magazine and looks forward to the achievements of the students and faculty that have worked on this gaming project. 

Zach Barth is a Junior at RPI, currently persuing a dual degree in Computer Science and Computer Systems Engineering. Driven to make games from a young age, Zach's interests are in the areas of novel immersion interfaces and mid-game content creation. He is the lead programmer for the capAbility Games research project and will be working as an intern at Breakaway Games this summer.

Ed Bartz has been an employee for the Center for Disability Services for 10 years. Ed has an associates degree in accounting from Ulster County Community College, along with additional course work at SUNY New Paltz and the  College  of Saint Rose. Ed has made remarkable milestones overcoming barriers in his life and is extremely independent because of it. He knows first hand what a positive effect technology has made in his life. Ed is the Editor of capAbility Magazine. He chairs the Consumer Advocacy Group for the Vocational Training and Services program. Ed is also an outstanding representative for the Center and has presented at many events.

Ashlye Cheely, M.S. CCC-SLP  is a Speech Language Pathologist at the Center for Disability Services.  She earned a BS and MS in Communication Disorders from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.  Ashlye maintains a constant interest in technology related to communication needs and computer access for people with disabilities. She has a focus on augmentative alternative communication as well as executive functioning skills for consumers with special needs. This project with RPI presents her and the team with an exciting opportunity to merge communication skills, executive functioning skills and technology with the excitement of a game environment. 

Jennifer Ash, '08, is majoring in Psychology with minors in Game Studies and Electronic Arts, with a strong interest in Human-Computer Interaction. Her role in the project is that of project manager/designer, with contributions to the project being storyboarding, working within the game mechanics and user interface, product design, and scheduling.

Peter Mueller, '08 is studying Product Design and Innovation. His role in the project thus far has been to create the game world in Maya. Other interests include thermal and fluids engineering, industrial design, and the interaction between society and technological development.

Terry Lucas, '07 is majoring in Information Technology.  Beside his interest in IT, he is also passionate in the area of 3D graphics and animation. He plays the role of the animator in this research project using Maya, After Effect and Motion Builder.