Circolino is a bundle of five Serious Games and self-built input devices to play games while making a range of different physiotherapy exercises. Every time the children play Circolino, the system logs a very important information for the therapy and then save it in a well formatted CSV file to be used for analyzing the progress of every singular patient.
This Serious Game was made for the Children's Rehabilitation Center of Affoltern (Switzerland) and is adapted to children under 12 years old with motoric functions problems. Playing is something that humans always did. Playing games is a very important part in the life of every one of us. Games are part of our culture as well and it doesn’t matter which one. Sadly, not all people can play video games. There are people that have problems with motoric functions and the most of these are children. Normally, physiotherapy involves helping children achieve their gross motor functions, and enabling them to develop their physical independence. The Physiotherapists assess, design and carry out stimulation exercises for children to improve their physical skills, and to prevent further deformities and minimize the effects of disability.
Anatomically the brain is not a muscle, but the brain follows the same rules as muscles do in the sense that it atrophies when left inert and continues to grow and strengthen the more it is stressed and supported with a healthy diet and sleep. To keep it as fit as the rest of your body, exercise it. Brain exercises can be active and physical or passive and mental. The mini-games of Circolino train these parts of the brain that are used to memorize, to calculate, to recognize, to see and to hear: parietal lobe, frontal lobe, temporal lobe and occipital lobe.
A gaming experience
My first step to create this game was to analyze together with a Physiotherapist the different exercises that these children executed every day. After that, I’ve collected all the important information and wrote the GDD (Game Design Document). While writing it, I’ve paid attention to all aspect of the game with the ‘eyes’ of these children. It wasn’t as easy as we can image. The most of these children have motoric problems not only because the muscles are not a good working, but because the brain of these have some problems too. I wanted to create mini-games that help to train the different parts of the brain too and not only the muscle: they must work together. The self-built input devices let to train the motoric while playing these mini-games. I’ve created something that has this ‘Wii style’ thing giving a whole different gaming experience than just ordinary keyboard or mouse. The most of these children can’t hold any controller in the hands, just because they have problems to move it too. My aim was to create something to wear, not so heavy, easy to install and to use. To use these input devices, we need to just plug-in the USB cable and we are ready to play: no extra drivers to install and compatible with the most operation systems. Last but not least: the children love Circolino!
I was thrilled to use my knowledge to create a game that is focusing on a target audience that not always is considerate in the game industry. To make Circolino I’ve used Blender for create the game and the 3D assets (environment, characters and items), Python for scripting it, Gimp for the textures, Inkscape for the 2D game elements, Audacity for the Sounds and the Music, and Scribus for the documentation.
In Circolino there are many characters, and every of these have differents behaviours. All were specially disigned to let the players better understand that it's cool to be different.