Imagine you’re in a car, blindfolded, hands on the wheel.
The windows are open and cars are rushing past at 90 miles per hour.
You have to follow a sadistic voice (a kidnapper) on the phone as it gives you commands. You start driving, speed by and can only rely on your hearing sense to detect which side cars are coming from and swerve away. And this is just the beginning — survival won’t be easy.
If it sounds wild, well, it’s time to get excited because this is the description of Blind Drive, an arcade-style game which is basically Virtual Reality for your ears.
Developed by sound engineer Giori Politi and interactive designer Doron Assayas Terre of Lo-Fi People, based in Tel Aviv, the game started as an idea for a museum installation.
“We wanted to explore the emotions and reactions that are evoked when sight is taken away and hearing is put in the forefront,” Terre told Mashable. “Everyone is familiar with the sounds of driving, but usually don’t realize how much information we receive and process through our ears.”
The duo had so much fun playing with the prototype that it quickly evolved into an arcade-style video game. From your smartphone, you can control the car by tapping either side of the screen to avoid vehicles from both sides as the threatening voice gives you orders.
As the game progresses, “rain starts pouring down, the radio blasts music, and more as the story gets increasingly bizarre and unexpected,” Terre said.
The highly realistic sound stimulates the imagination and creates “a deep sense of immersion quite different from what is possible with graphics – like VR for your ears,” he said.
But just as with VR, the game could prove to be extremely stressful for users.
“The overwhelming response is that the experience is equal parts fun and thrilling,” Terre said.
“We’ve had players break into a sweat and shake uncontrollably, and still grin from ear to ear when they take their headphones off and put the game down.”
The game is currently in post-production, looking toward a summer release on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows. A proper VR release is also in the works.
“Head movement has the potential to add a whole new level to audio-based gameplay,” Terre said.