UCL Computer Science


MotionInput Games: empowering kids to build and play inclusive games

28 November 2023

UCL Computer Science is collaborating with kids’ coding club Code Ninjas and charity SpecialEffect to help physically disabled people, specifically children, play and make video games.

Group of students with Dean

The revolutionary touchless computing software UCL MotionInput has been developed by hundreds of UCL students and lecturers, the NHS and industry partners Intel, Microsoft and IBM.

Eliminating the need for expensive, cumbersome hardware, MotionInput utilises just a standard webcam to make computer usage accessible for millions of people. The software has many applications. MotionInput Games allows everyone to enjoy playing video games.

UCL Computer Science visited Code Ninjas in Enfield Town in north London to introduce the young coders to UCL MotionInput. The children had the first trial of the latest version of MotionInput, just around the corner from another technological first - the world's first-ever ATM machine was installed in Enfield Town in 1967.

Code Ninjas is an after-school coding club for children aged 5 to 14, where they learn to code on development platforms such as Microsoft MakeCode and Unity. The young people were able to apply the MotionInput Games technology to off-the-shelf games and ones they had built themselves. With eye and face tracking, and hand and body gesture recognition, MotionInput adds an extra dimension to gameplay. The kids controlled Tetris with head movements, used elbows and knees to navigate Pac-man, and flicked their wrists to web-sling like Spider-man.

However, the technology's benefits go beyond increased enjoyment. The games that are played and made are now accessible to people with limited mobility. UCL Computer Science is working with the charity SpecialEffects to explore the use cases for physically disabled people. 

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Professor Dean Mohamedally, co-founder of UCL IXN, the programme that developed MotionInput, said: “To see the children at Code Ninjas use MotionInput to breathe new life into games was a delight. It’s heartwarming to see the next generation of coders devise accessible games for children with physical disabilities. I can’t wait to see the innovative games they’ll create!”

Neil Applewhaite and Dr Renee Romeo, co-owners of Code Ninjas in Enfield Town, commented: 

''Code Ninjas in Enfield Town are empowering children with computational, problem-solving, and creative-thinking skills. Our ninjas have seen how enjoyable and easy it is to use MotionInput on widely played games developed in Unity and others in MakeCode. There is great potential to expand their horizons to build motion-enabled computer games. Thereby presenting young developers with a unique opportunity to be architects and innovators of the future of technology, while also having loads of fun! ''

Harry Nelson, Technical Specialist at SpecialEffect, said: “We’re excited to collaborate with MotionInput Games to find novel ways of improving accessibility in gaming for individuals facing physical access challenges. We hope that the future of the project will aid in enabling those individuals to engage and feel included in the wonderful collaborative experience that is modern gaming.”