Young people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are developing computer games as a way to build valuable work experience skills in the digital realm, and presenting their designs at the Penny Arcade Expo gaming convention.
The initiative is part of The Lab Network; a not-for-profit that provides mentoring by technology professionals in areas such as gaming, programming, IT, 3D and digital design for social and technical skill development in young people with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.
Participants developed two games, Scrapnell, a demolition battle royal car game and Paxexion, a 2D game based on participants attending and exploring the gaming convention.
National Coordinator at The Lab Network, Alan Morgans says the initiative shows the potential of digital projects to build collaborative working skills.
“Group work is challenging for most of us – whether on the spectrum or not – and considering this had never been attempted by these young people before they have done an amazing job and gained valuable experience, as have the mentors involved,” Morgans says.
The two games showcase the diversity of skills taught and discussed at The Lab, including coding, sound effects, artificial intelligence, art and concept development, digital design, 3D development.
“It’s an impressive proof of how The Lab’s expansion of online sessions during COVID-19 restrictions on meeting in person is keeping young people on the spectrum connected, happy, creative and productive,” Morgans says.
“Most importantly, it shows how skilled and talented these young people are.”
The Lab Network received an award for outstanding use of technology from NBN Co. and the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) for its development of online mentoring for young people on the Autism Spectrum in 2016.