Note from Mystery Ball creator David Howe: When I was nearing the final months of development on Mystery Ball, I knew how critical balancing the game and tweaking it based on player feedback was going to be. Opening the signups locally and online, I fully expected a wide variety of age groups to want to test out the game. What I didn’t expect, and what turned out to be the greatest, most positive experience of this game’s development, was a beta tester who inspires me more than any other. Jonathan and Jawanda Mast’s daughter Rachel has been FRED’s biggest fan, and her excitement about the game has encouraged me to continually give everything I have to make this the best game it can possibly be. Here is their story.
Each generation likes to tell the next what it was like back in the day. When it comes to individuals with developmental disabilities and technology, we really will be talking about the “back in the day” sooner instead of later. As the father of an amazing 12-year-old daughter who is an actress, cheerleader, dancer and earned a spot on the principal’s honor roll at Indian Trail Middle School, Rachel’s future will be dramatically different from mine. Rachel also has Down syndrome.
What is Down syndrome? Down syndrome is the most common genetic condition. The most common form of Down syndrome is called Trisomy 21, because it involves an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. People with Down syndrome experience cognitive delays, but the effect is usually mild to moderate and is not indicative of the many strengths and talents that each individual possesses.
We knew immediately that the iPad would be a game-changer for people with disabilities. It didn’t take long for my wife Jawanda and I to realize that technology would open doors for Rachel to do things that the world could not have imagined 15 years ago.
It has been amazing to see Rachel use the iPad. We have found several great apps to tie to her schoolwork. One is the use of electronic flash cards. Rachel is a visual learner and loves the interaction the iPad gives. The hundreds of index cards we used are now obsolete.
I am writing this blog specifically about Mystery Ball. I was fortunate to attend Red Nova Labs’ Venture Friday the day David Howe, the creator of Mystery Ball, gave his demo. Everyone who attended was invited to be a beta tester. I decided to sign up and see how Rachel did with the product. She would provide a great perspective. I get asked by a lot of parents who have a child with Down syndrome for app and game recommendations. I downloaded Mystery Ball that weekend and Rachel immediately made that her top game. She gave her feedback, both pro and con.
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