As part of our celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) held a behind-the-scenes event on Deafverse, an NDC online resource designed for deaf youth. This event featured a panel of talented deaf professionals who worked to create this first-of-its-kind online educational game, which has recently launched a new expansion called World Two: Revenge of the Deep. This latest addition, which focuses on job readiness and related skills, builds upon the unique deaf-centered online gaming experience that began with Deafverse World One: Duel of the Bots.
Deafverse is a choose-your-own-adventure online game designed to foster self-determination and self-advocacy in deaf youth. These skills will help deaf youth reach their goals in school, work, and in their communities. Panelists from the Deafverse team explained their different roles and experiences in the development of the game. They also shared their personal journey of #DeafSuccess.
The Moderator and Panelists were:
Kent Turner, moderator, Gaming Coordinator at NDC
Justin Perez, Deafverse narrator/videographer and Visual Language Specialist with Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing at the Department of Health
Brit Macias, Deafverse Animator and Media Specialist at NDC
William Albirght, Senior Software Engineer, at NDC
Carlisle Robinson, Deafverse Illustrator and Graphic Designer at CB Linguistic Service
A Game for Deaf People Created by Deaf People
The team that created Deafverse found much of the source material very close to home — in their own lived experiences.
“We asked ourselves, what have we experienced in my own reality and how can it put into Deafverse World One and World Two?” Turner explained. “These are things that we've navigated in our lives. And now we can share them in the game, a safe space that some people might not have access to.”
These experiences from the team members helped shape Deafverse.
“I didn't see too many deaf peers or role models as a kid,” Macias shared. “This game shows what types of barriers you face in the real world. I definitely wish I had a game like this when I was young.”
Perez agreed. “Not too much was accessible back when I was a kid, and schools don't always teach how to navigate accessibility issues in real life. This game, however, is different because it provides those experiences and situations. Teachers anywhere can use this game in the classroom as a fantastic tool.”
“A lot of things aren't discussed in the classroom. This game offers those discussions,” Turner added. “You play it in a place that's meant to be safe and if you make one choice versus another, there are consequences in the game, and you learn them.”
Robinson added, “I imagine having this as a child. I wouldn't have to worry about experiencing oppression on my own. I would have had this game to help figure it out. I'm so curious to see what kids today make of it and what their future looks with it.”
There is No Single Path to #DeafSuccess
While all our panelists agreed that they loved working on the Deafverse project, not all of them had a linear career path that led them there.
“As a game designer, I majored in biology in college — which is off kilter for what you think a game designer would major in,” Kent said. “I then worked in middle school for deaf kids, focused on literacy and writing. Then I ended up as a game designer. You never know the trajectory of life. It may be an experience you have that leads you to doing something different.”
Albright also had a unique career path. “I majored in business, but always loved computers and web design. Before I graduated from college, there was a website building project for a student organization. The developer quit, so I jumped in and taught myself the pieces I didn’t know. That was a stepping stone to other projects, and now Deafverse.”
“Like many of these folks, I have had several different parts of my journey,” Robinson shared. “I wasn't sure if I wanted to be an artist, so I ended up working in the government after graduating from Gallaudet. But why couldn't I combine both — my pride and advocacy for being deaf and being an artist? I focused on my comics and developed my artistry and embraced the creativity I have. I never thought I'd be here today and Deafverse is absolutely where I love being.”
The unique paths of all the panelists showed a common theme — it is never too late to really pursue an interest that you have. Like our Deafverse creators, you can learn through experiences and build upon them, which allows our skills to really develop and grow.
Explore Deafverse World Two
Deafverse World Two: Revenge of the Deep is now here!
With a new partner, Kat, students will search for Catbot, their trusty sidekick from World One, on an island filled with ravenous sea monsters. Along the way, they’ll also pick up vital workplace readiness skills like how to evaluate employment options, confidently disclose deafness, request accommodations, and resolve conflicts that will inevitably arise on the job. World Two also includes a mock job interview for players that helps prepare them for this important step into adult life.
The World Two gaming experience also expands on the existing format with exciting new features that make the gameplay more open-ended and responsive to players’ decisions. It features a completely new environment and has added many more characters for players to meet and work with along the way.
Through these adventures, Deafverse supports foundational skill development in deaf youth by exposing them to real-world scenarios that will happen in the workplace and challenging them to think about how they might best react. These learning objectives are specially designed to align with the Workplace Readiness category of Pre-employment Transition Services (pre-ETS).