The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes today released Deafverse World One: Duel of the Bots, an online choose-your-own-adventure game designed for deaf teenagers to build confidence, learn their rights, and develop skills to succeed in their transition from high school to adult life.

It is the first and only ASL-accessible video game. The game’s September 10 launch coincides with the start of the school year and Deaf Awareness Month.

“As teenagers prepare for life after high school, feelings of anticipation and uncertainty are to be expected,” said Stephanie Cawthon, PhD, Director of the National Deaf Center and Professor in the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin. “But unlike their hearing peers, deaf teens also have to know how to request the accommodations they need and the access they are required to have by law. With Deafverse, they can have a fun digital experience and a safe space to learn, practice, and solidify the self-determination skills they need to succeed after high school.”

Self-determination is the process by which people make their own choices and decisions. When deaf teens feel competent to make their own choices, advocate for themselves, and influence their environment, they are more likely to take charge of planning their life after high school, applying to college or training programs, and seeking jobs. These milestones are critical – especially considering recent National Deaf Center research shows deaf Americans lag in employment, education, and undergraduate college achievement.

The game’s motto, “Choose Your Future,” sets the tone. Deafverse engages players in a digital experience that travels through multiple worlds. Players awaken mid-escape from a mysterious organization that is trying to gain knowledge from Deafverse, a collection of ancient, magical comic books. Once they meet Justin the Narrator, they enter a virtual reality world within the comic books, where they begin a choose-your-own-adventure branching storyline with a mechanical sidekick named Catbot.

As players proceed through six chapters and help Catbot stop a rogue bot from wreaking havoc, they encounter real-world scenarios and typical situations that are part of life as a deaf teenager, such as inexperienced American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters in class, inaccessible emergency alerts, and movies or videos that lack proper captions. Deafverse presents opportunities for deaf teens to practice: 

Deafverse is a game-based learning experience that can help deaf teens feel socially connected, empowered by their progress and accomplishments, and inspired by the deaf actors who portray characters in the game – such as Justin Perez, who vividly portrays Justin the Narrator – and the deaf team behind the scenes.

“Deafverse is designed by National Deaf Center researchers and creators who are deaf ourselves. We tapped into our personal experiences, our work with deaf teens and their teachers, and our extensive research in deaf education to create a one-of-a-kind game that has serious goals – strengthening critical thinking, engaging problem-based learning, improving outcomes – yet has a lot of fun along the way,” said Carrie Lou Garberoglio, PhD, Associate Director of the National Deaf Center.

Deafverse World One: Duel of the Bots includes:

  • A free game with log-in at deafverse.com or at NationalDeafCenter.org/game

  • ASL and English versions that can be played at school, home, in transition programs, or vocational rehabilitation settings.

  • Downloadable Player Strategy Guide for fun and further exploration of real-world scenarios and feelings.

  • Downloadable Teacher Strategy Guide with learning objectives, a summary of the story and characters, important vocabulary, activity guides for each chapter, and other supplemental materials.

  • Meet the Team” profiles of the deaf creators

  • Email subscription for news, updates, and tips.

  • GIFs to share and connect with the Deafverse community. 

Educators and others are invited to join a Twitter Chat about Deafverse hosted by the National Deaf Center (@NationalDeafCtr: https://twitter.com/NationalDeafCtr) on Tuesday, September 24, at 7:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. CT / 4:30 p.m. PT. The hour-long conversation will focus on game-based learning, using the strategy guides in classrooms, and sharing curriculum ideas and activities.

A limited beta version of Deafverse was released in 2018 with a pilot curriculum. It has undergone extensive focus group testing by deaf students at ten high schools throughout the United States. Deafverse World Two is planned for release in 2020.

In addition to Deafverse, the National Deaf Center offers families and professionals a full array of resources for transition planning designed to help teenagers successfully prepare for and succeed at life after high school. It also provides one-on-one help to families and organizations who need customized assistance or referrals.