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Games for Children With Special Needs

by Mahrukh Sarwar

Nothing beats stress like playing video games. Be it arcade or virtual reality games, everyone enjoys playing them. Unfortunately, this is difficult for children with physical disabilities. GesDrive has created a Natural User Interface (NUI) to help physically impaired children play video games via simple gestures.

Syed Saghir Hassan Rizvi, a computer science graduate from FAST Karachi, is the co-founder of GesDrive and left a well-paid job to focus on the startup: “Financially it was a difficult time, and although my friends were a little scared, I had the full support of my family.”

However, three of his friends were interested in the idea, and soon all of them moved to Lahore, thinking there was more focus on the needs and rehabilitation of special children in the province than elsewhere. The goal, Rizvi explains, was to “make video games” and that too, “for a good cause.”

Rizvi and his friends applied for Plan9’s 6th cycle of incubation, where his idea started to take shape. “There is a general competitive environment at Plan9 which really helps people stay motivated. I think by working alongside other startups, we gained confidence that we are not the only ones with the problems. We also had constructive discussions with other startups which led to potential solutions.”

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After being incubated, GesDrive has now partnered with the Rising Sun Institute, a special education organization for mentally and physically challenged children. The organization has well-established schools that have enrolled almost 650 children with special needs. GesDrive, with the help of the Rising Sun Institute, has tested the video game with 20 children with different disabilities, and claims a success rate of almost 78 percent. Now, the startup is not only helping provide these kids with entertainment but is also aiming to improve their education as well. This includes testing interactive teaching methodologies so that these kids are motivated and can learn more.

Rizvi also talks about the limited market awareness about his product. “There is very little market awareness about video games for disabled children. It becomes difficult for us to make people understand what we are doing and even harder to gain their support. Hopefully, with time and more products in the market, this environment will change.”


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