Games in Science and Technology

Valve to Incorporate Sign Language in Next Half-Life Episode

Alyx from Half-Life 2Half-Life 2: Episode 3 is expected to feature a character using American Sign Language (ASL), according to Valve co-founder Gabe Newell. The story’s main character, Alyx, is believed to be revealed to have learned sign language to communicate with a former deaf love interest, who is thought to be introduced in the new game.

The developer has been running focus groups with deaf participants to get their input on how to integrate ASL realistically in games, which would come as an innovative development in mainstream gaming. YouTube features two video excerpts of these focus groups. Read More...

It appears Valve’s vision goes beyond simply reproducing the hand gestures making up ASL. The team is looking to adequately capture the intricacies of deaf culture, including recognizing the importance of facial expressions.

“As a person who tells stories, I’m trying to understand the subjective experience of the hearing-impaired because the truth of that needs to come out in the character,” said Newell.

While Newell does not explicitly say that the signing technology will be included in Episode 3, many in the industry believe it will be due to the numerous delays in releasing the title.