One Button For All

There are two different directions video game publishers have gone in attempting to increase sales while decreasing piracy and used game sales. One is to introduce DRM and put in one-use codes. The other is reduce prices and add free content. One is relatively anti-consumer, the other pro. Today’s topic is clearly in the pro-consumer area.

Sony is taking a major step toward accessibility in their latest baseball game, MLB 11. In order to make the gameplay available to everyone, there will be way to play that requires only a single button. When at bat, the button will swing. On the other side, the single button will pitch. All fielding and base running will be done automatically by the A.I. The mode is just a difficulty setting and is thus usable in every single part of the game. No content is locked out from using it.

In an era when games are getting more and more complicated, this kind of effort is amazing. The reason behind this choice is pretty great. A few years ago, Hans Smith, a disabled gamer with cerebral palsy, wrote a letter to Sony’s San Diego studio, the developers of the baseball series. The producers were so moved by Smith’s passionate words about baseball, the Cardinals and their video game, that actually created a digital version of Smith and included him in “MLB 10: The Show.” The one button mode in this years game is simply an extension of this relationship. The importance of this is best summaries in Smith’s own words:

“So my body doesn’t know the difference between reality and virtual reality. I’m never going to throw a baseball. I’m never going to run around the bases. So all of the adrenaline you feel by stepping out on the field and coming up to bat with two outs in the ninth inning, that’s what I feel when I play the video game.”

And now everyone gets a chance to feel that. Thanks Sony. Well done.

-That is all.

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2 thoughts on “One Button For All

  1. Are you familiar with the AbleGamers Foundation? They are at the forefront of promoting game accessibility. (Disclaimer: I am a staff writer there.) http://ablegamers.com for news and reviews, http://ablegamers.net for the Foundation. It’s nice to see console games catching up with PC games in terms of accessibility for disabled people.

  2. Nick Bell says:

    Yes, I am quite familiar with Able Gamer. Your news feed is one of the select video game sites I follow. While accessibility is not something I need much myself just yet, I like to support developers who do care about it. So I appreciate what you and the rest of the staff do there.

    In fact, if you follow the first link in my post, it actually takes you to Steve Spohn’s article about MLB 11. =)

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