Play Us - a Sound, Voice and Musical Interactive Game
No buttons, no keyboard is used to play, only sound.
Possible to play by people with motor or cognitive disabilities or young children
Developed with neuropsychological expertise
This game is voice and sound controlled. You can make things happen by singing, playing an instrument or simply create vocalizations. What you need is a microphone to your computer. A built-in laptop microphone or a connected microphone. It's good if the microphone has the sensitivity set good enough and that it is not too noisy around you, so there can be a dynamic range in volume. You start the game and different scenes plays. You only need to click a button to start the game, once the game have started you only use sound to play. You can set the scenes to loop so the game will continuously run between the scenes. This feature may be suitable for people with mobility problems or cognitive problems. The game is for Windows 10 computers. and can be downloaded from Microsoft Store.
Tutorial and How to Play
Play Us! is voice and sound controlled only. You can make things happen by singing, playing an instrument or simply create vocalizations or noise. What you need is a microphone connected to your computer, a built-in laptop microphone or an external microphone. The only buttons you press is when you start and quit the game. The scenes will always end by themselves after a while (the time limits are different for different scenes) and then a new, random scene will start. Because of that function, the game can run non-stop, you have the option to choose what scenes that should be part in this loop, just check one or more toggles from the start menu. A new random scene can also be started by a period of silence. This function makes it possible to play even by people who may have limited computer knowledge or limited motor functions. The game is intended to be simple and general in functions, as such it could be a fun way for small children to explore sound and musical instruments. (You don't need to be able to play well.) This game can work as a visual instrument.
You can start any scene from the Start screen.
Loop Favourite Scenes and choose the right graphics quality Check the toggles on the scenes you'd like to be part of the non-stop loop shuffle. Also make sure to choose the graphics quality that suits your computer.
Note: All scenes have a built in limited time before it stops and is ready to load a random new scene. This function is to make the game as simple to use as possible without pressing buttons. Once you have started the game, the game will load a random new scene from those scenes that are checked after some time of playing or after some silence. In that way there can be a continuation and variation of playing without the need to restart the game for each scene.
Choose Graphics Quality
The game uses the latest graphic technology which can make it heavy on low end computers, make sure to choose the graphics quality that will work for you. Choose between high, medium and low graphics settings depending on how powerful your computer is. This option is available from the bottom of the Start screen. It may take a few seconds to complete the process after you have pressed a button. Some scenes may crash on low end computers due to heavy graphics, choose low quality in that case.
There are no rules on how to play but here are some tips:
Use different sounding voice or instruments to see changes in amount and sometimes colors of bubbles.
This room works best with some rhythm instrument and short, rhythmic hits of sounds. Try a drum or some other percussion instrument. Dynamic play is recommended here, that is, alternate between louder and more quieter sound.
In the first level you can control the speed of orbiting planets. See if you can make the planets avoid collisions with other objects or they may explode and disappear. Watch out for the gas cloud, let the planets push it away before it grows too much and eat up the planets with its heat.
In the second level you control a space ship. Try to alternate between low level volume (ship can slide around a little) and short high bursts of sound (ship will turn and move faster). If you hit the asteroids with your weapon it will grow in energy and soon it will start to auto-fire shots. Shoot the asteroids to get points.
Car Race Room
Drive the car along the race track only with your voice or some other continuous sound. Sounding like kids do while playing with cars actually works here, try "Wroom.. wrooom...". Be careful not to run into any of the roadblocks (a tree or rock) or you could fly off the road! Be sure to stay silent to make the car stop in time when approaching such an object.
Science Room - This is a simple scene to illustrate different aspects of volume and pitch.
In this room you use sound to lift and hold blocks.
In the first level, try to lift the blocks and hold them in the air for some time to make them find their way back to their original places. You need to keep up a continuous volume to hold the blocks. (There is room to breathe though.)
In the second level you can build a random formed statue of the blocks by pushing them upwards and hold them for some time.
In the third and final level, you can build a formation by holding a block and letting it down where you want it, or at least try to do that. The block will move in smaller or larger circles depending on how high up it is and how much sound you'll give it. In that way you can try to place them at different spots.
View the different kaleidoscope patterns by creating continuous volume and pitch changes.
About the Microphone
It is important to have a good input level for the microphone. First, try to set the input volume for the microphone at a good level in Windows audio settings. (In Windows, press Start and Settings and look for the audio settings.) Don't set the microphone volume too loud so the game picks up noise.
You can then check the level from the Start Scene in the game, click on "Test Microphone Levels". The indicator should be in the green field most of the time when playing or singing at a comfortable level. It should drop to bottom on silence. If it is too low or too high, try to adjust volume in Windows Settings again.
If it is not possible to adjust your microphone in Windows enough, you can drag the Input Sensitivity slider to raise sensitivity in the game. Don't raise it more than necessary.
There should be no need to shout in the game, rather use dynamic volume changes. That is, alternate between louder and lower sound. In some scenes, like Rhythm Room and Car Race Room you actually need to be more silent some times.
(If you are setting your microphone's frequency manually, the standard settings in Windows and the recommended settings for the game is 48 Hz.)
Note: The game will vary depending on who is playing.
The pitch of sounds may contribute in different levels, so different people may produce different results in the scenes due to variations in their voices and different instruments will work differently in the scenes.
Using Play Us! in clinical research
If you are from a public health care organization or similar and would like to use Play Us! in a project or in research you're welcome to contact Mixxus Studio for access to full version of the game. firstname.lastname@example.org