A 25-year-old St. Louis Cardinals fan with cerebral palsy has inspired a new game mode in the upcoming MLB 11: The Show.
According to ESPN, Hans Smith wrote to Sony's San Diego game studio, the title's developer, a few years ago to talk about his love for baseball and the video game. The letter prompted the studio to add Smith as a playable character in MLB 10: The Show, and his continued ties with the development team spurred it to create a new game mode in its upcoming release that makes it easier for gamers with disabilities to play.
ESPN said the mode is named after Smith's organization, the Association for Disabled Virtual Athletes. Rather than require gamers to press several different buttons to control players, the new mode offers single-press functionality for everything from throwing a runner out to batting. The game's AI takes care of running after the ball and other activities that might require multiple buttons.
"I'm never going to throw a baseball. I'm never going to run around the bases," Smith told ESPN in an interview. "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."
The new game mode in MLB 11: The Show is a highly commendable addition. Baseball games have traditionally featured more sophisticated controls, requiring users to interact with several buttons at a time to perform actions. With the new mode in place, those who might otherwise have not been able to manage those controls will have the ability to enjoy the game.
"This levels the playing field for people who are otherwise outside the sports arena," Smith told ESPN.
Sony's MLB 11: The Show is scheduled to be released in March on the PlayStation 3.