Google is now offering access to five games controlled entirely by Morse code, thanks to a 48 hour “hackathon,” and a partnership with Adaptive Design Association. The games use the Morse code functionality introduced into Gboard in May 2018, and are intended for people with limited mobility who cannot use other control methods, as well as for people who are interested in learning Morse code.
The games were created over a period of two days by five teams of game designers and developers, each working with a child with limited mobility. Each of these children worked as the game’s creative director, and their specific vision helped to shape the games, making them uniquely molded around each child’s interests. For instance, Olivia’s “Alphabet’s Got Talent” is modeled after the talent shows she loves, while Hannah’s game uses Morse code to play musical notes. Players will be able to shoot soccer balls at targets in Matthew’s game, and Ben’s passion for trains is clear in his game that shows YouTube videos on a train once the correct letters are typed. Emmett — whose learning of Morse code through a similar Google-built game inspired this challenge — created a maze solved by typing different letters.
Morse code is a simple but enduring method of communication. Composed of just dots and dashes, it has survived and withstood the onslaught of radios, telephones, and the internet — and is still used by many today, including the U.S. Navy and the Coast Guard. Part of the reason why Morse code has survived as well as it has comes down to its simplicity, and that’s what makes it the perfect tool for people who find it otherwise difficult to communicate. Since all that’s needed to use Morse code is a single input, it’s adaptable for a variety of circumstances, and simple enough to be learned quickly and easily.
Google is posting the code for each game on its Experiments with Google website, where they join other open-source examples of apps made with Morse code in mind. Google is hoping that these resources help to inspire other creators in making apps accessible to as many people as possible.