Computer Games and Huntington's Disease

By Ross Scott

Our friend, Bill, has progressed too far with HD to do even simple tasks. However, there are computer games that he still enjoys. Bill has the early-onset form which makes him more rigid than choreaic, and he enjoys the following games. We have an IBM clone, but the same games are available for MACs.

1. Extreme Pinball, free download from

Extreme pinball uses the left and right shift (or control) keys to work the "flippers". We shoot the ball for him by pressing the down-arrow key. With us holding the keyboard, and him gripping it from below, his thumbs spastically hit the Shift and Control keys just often enough to rack up some pretty good scores. When we play against him we play against him using just the left flipper to "level the playing field."

2. Tyrian, free download from

Tyrian is a whimsical space war came with steering and shooting by mouse or joystick. Action speed and difficulty level are settable. the scenario repeats itself just enough that Bill knows what to expect next and not get bored. In fact, his "Huntington-enhanced" compulsiveness makes him all the better player, as he just can't get enough of it. It allows two player to fight the "enemy" together, one on the mouse or keyboard, and Bill on the joystick. This is rewarding in that it gives us a chance to cover and protect each other against the enemy, and there isn't much Bill can do anymore that requires teamwork.

3. Blackjack, a free-trial version is available from:

Donald L. Granger
Glencoe Computing
1100 Highway C
Glencoe, Missouri 63038-1404

(314) 458-2863 CompuServe 72416,1362

Ask him where it can be downloaded from.

This is a very good blackjack simulator, with the computer playing the dealer. Bill, Gudrun, and I play against the dealer, and indirectly against each other. Gudrun or I work the keyboard. The cards on the screen are about 3x2 inches, so that he can see their values and suits. As you may know, casino players signal the dealer they want a "hit" by scratching their upper leg, and that they want to "stand" by waving their hand in the air. This makes it nice for Bill as he can no longer speak, and we all communicate to the dealer in the same fashion. Since Bill still has pretty much of his intellect, and he can still make leg scratch and hand waving motions, he is at no disadvantage, and beats the dealer more often than we do.

There are a number of other games we play that are available for free download as well, and some may be more suitable than these. Let me know if I can be of any help.

Converted to HTML by Renette Davis with permission from the author, Ross Scott. Send comments for Renette to her by clicking here and comments for Ross to

Last updated: Nov. 30, 2010