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How One Video Game Allows Disabled Man To Be The Professional Athlete He Dreams Of Being
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Usually when you’re hearing a story involving video games, it’s someone blaming them for crimes and senseless violence or complaining that their kids shouldn’t be playing such filth (instead of actually trying to be a parent and refusing to give them access to the more mature titles, of course).

Put all of that out of your mind; today we have a wonderful story about video games that will warm your heart and make you smile.

25-year-old Hans Smith is a baseball and St. Louis Cardinals super-fan. He also suffers from cerebral palsy. But instead of letting that keep him from doing the things he loves and giving up on life, he’s making the best of it and finding ways to thrive even with the restrictions he battles every day of his life.

Smith knows he can never even throw a baseball, let alone be a professional ballplayer like he would love to do, which is why he fell in love with baseball video games. We all love video games (especially with today’s unbelievably realistic graphics) because they allow us to escape from reality and go on adventures or play professional sports. But for Hans Smith, it’s an entirely different level. He plays himself and only himself in the game MLB: The Show — meaning he, as a pitcher, only plays when he’s scheduled to play, and if he suffers an injury, he’ll simulate the game but watch it in its entirety as if sitting in the dugout with his teammates.

He explains:

It comes from the fact that I can’t physically play baseball, a game I am fanatic about. But I’ve been able to play baseball over the years by playing various video games. I love baseball video games. To some people, these are just games. But that’s because at any time, they can turn off the console and go out to a ballpark and play baseball in the physical world. I can’t do that.

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. So in a sense, this game is my reality. ‘MLB: The Show’ gives you the experience of what it’s like to play, not just as a team, but you get to be a player with Road to the Show. You can play from the position of a first baseman, you can play shortstop, you can play catcher. You can feel the highs of getting the big hit, and you can feel the lows of being out of position and making an error that costs your team the game. To be able to play the game and practice your skills and actually better yourself, that’s what drew me in to the game.

Being inspired by Smith’s love for their game, the developers actually made Hans Smith a playable character in MLB 10: The Show, and they’re not stopping there. For MLB 11: The Show, a new mode has been created for players with disabilities. If you have a disability so restrictive that you can only push one button, you will STILL be able to play these games and feel what Hans Smith feels. This is thanks to the new one-button mode where the computer will handle all of the running and other things that go into the game, while you push that single button for the most crucial things like pitching and hitting. The one-button mode was created in dedication to an organization that Smith himself started called the Association for Disabled Virtual Athletes.

Speaking on this organization and what it means for anyone with disabilities to live the dreams that they can’t live through the power of today’s video games, Smith added:

Here I am, a baseball fanatic who never actually played the game for real, but through this video game, I’ve been able to have the experience of playing the real game of dreams. There are so many people out there who are in wheelchairs but love sports. Because of that, I want to make it possible for them to have their dreams come true just like me. I know how exciting it was for me to finally play baseball. I want everyone to have that same feeling. That’s what the Association for Disabled Virtual Athletes is all about.

Some organizations for disabled people aren’t available to everyone — you have to live in a big city. Plus, you still run the risk of getting hurt. But with a virtual organization, you can adjust the settings to whatever you want. If you can’t do anything but push one button, then you can control everything else via the artificial intelligence. This levels the playing field for people who are otherwise outside the sports arena.

Again, these are the stories you can’t help but smile about. Many, many props to the makers of MLB: The Show for doing what they’re doing for people like Hans Smith to experience what they’ve dreamed of experiencing…especially now with how realistic games can be. With a little imagination, anyone can fly away to another world, another adventure, another life. And people say video games are useless and rotting minds.

And to Mr. Hans Smith — Geeks of Doom would like to wish you the very best of luck in your upcoming baseball season.

[Source: ESPN via G4]

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