Can L.A. Noire Help Fight Autism?


Posted May 24, 2011 - By Stephen Johnson

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The Noir of L.A. Noire: Why Rockstar

We all love video games as a way to blow off steam, have fun with our friends and otherwise pass time, but every once in a while, we run across a story about actual positive effects of games on people's lives. I like to point them out to counter the sometimes very negative portrayal gaming gets in the "mainstream" press. Today's story:  Professor Tony Attwood, author of The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome, thinks L.A. Noire might help people who suffer from Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.

One of the main symptoms of Asperger's is the inability to understand or interpret the emotions of other people. People with Aspergers' have a lot of trouble recognizing and understanding what people's reactions mean. This makes social situations hard for them, as they have no idea whether the person they're speaking to is annoyed, bored, or whatever. Here's where L.A. Noire comes in: The game forces players to interpret the emotions of the people you interrogate, then gives immediate feedback on the success or failure of the interrogation. Because of the much-heralded detailed facial animation, the game makes it possible to "practice" reading emotional responses.

Obiviously Team Bondi and Rockstar weren't trying to make a therepautic tool for Autism patients, but they might have inadvertently done just that. According to Atwood:

"I think those with Asperger's syndrome would actually find the game quite fascinating as although the player is expected to make a decision on whether someone may be lying, there is the possibility of reviewing and replaying the scene to confirm whether the response was correct or identify the characteristics should a mistake have been made."

Will this make Asperber suffers ultimately better able to read real people? We can't say until research has been done, but it's an interesting proposition, and one of those thousand-points-of-gaming light we like to highlight.

What do you think? Do you know anyone with Aspergers who might be helped by L.A. Noire?

Source: Joystiq

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Can L.A. Noire Help Fight Autism?