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Social Clues creates a game world to help autistic children

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Social Clues is a combination puzzle game and therapy tool in development from a team of 35 University of Southern California students, USC News reports.

The game combines aspects of behavioral therapy with video game mechanics to help children on the autistic spectrum. In Social Clues, players take on the role of particiPETE or communiKATE as they participate in teachable scenarios. In one where a vending machine is out of apple juice, a virtual parrot called Sherlock teaches players that they need to look at someone and make eye contact to get juice.

"What we're trying to do is break down everyday interactions into something very understandable, very manageable," said project lead and USC Marshall School of Business MBA student Jeremy Bernstein. "We're basically giving our players a road map they can use offline."

Bernstein and his wife, speech language pathologist Karen Okrent, conceived of the game for children with autism and developmental disabilities. According to the official Social Clues website, the hybrid game/therapy tool incorporates "some of the most widely used behavioral therapies" and is in development by a team that includes artists, designers, engineers and therapists. You can watch a trailer for Social Clues, which is in development first for iPad but is planned for other devices, above.

Social Clues is in development at the USC Games program. For more on USC Games, whose alumni include members of thatgamecompany, the development team behind Flower and Journey, be sure to read our interview with Tracy Fullerton, the director of USC's Game Innovation Lab.