Breaking Down Barriers In The Virtual World9 Mar 2011
Hans Smith is 24 and lives in Idaho in the US. He was born with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, which means that, although he is mentally capable, he is unable to feed, dress or care for himself.
Hans loves his baseball, and I’m sure you can appreciate that it would be quite frustrating not to be able to literally play baseball with his friends.
The next best thing for Hans, is to play in the virtual world. His favourite game is MLB, The Show, one of the most popular baseball games, made for the Sony PlayStation. The only problem Hans was facing with this game was, sometimes, because of his muscle spasms, he is unable to control his virtual character the way that he wanted to.
Hans may have had some difficulties playing the game, but for him, he was just so grateful to be able to play baseball, and it was the closest to playing a real game, would get for him. He sent Sony a letter, thanking them for the opportunity to virtually play baseball, he admitted that he couldn’t play quite as good as others gamers whilst playing against them online, but he was still very happy with the game.
The design team at Sony Computer Entertainment America, were so moved by Hans’ letter, that they invited him to their studio to collaborate some ideas on how their game could be modified for people with disabilities, such as Hans’, to play a little easier.
MLB, The Show has about 70 different settings that can be altered for gamers individual needs, the design team came up with the concept of the A.D.V.A. mode, A.D.V.A. stands for Association for Disabled Virtual Athletes. Considering that there are around 33 million American gamers with disabilities, Sony may be onto something, reaching a large, never before considered demographic.
The A.D.V.A. mode is set to Hans’ recommendations but can be adjusted to suit the individual needs of any gamer with a disability. To view the details of the A.D.V.A. settings, check out the article in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/sports/baseball/06gamer.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2
Or you could buy your own copy of this year’s version of MLB, The Show, which comes out this week and is made for the Sony PlayStation 3.
It’s a fantastic starting point for gamers with disabilities
who have limited movement, and will change the way they play computer games.
With the virtual world these days heading in the direction of movement control, such as the Wii, Hans feels like people with severe disabilities
like himself, are going to be left behind, but hopefully Sony has set a guideline for how other gaming companies should design their products from now on.