The 2020 Summer Paralympic Games ended yesterday – but the event is far from over in the video game world.
Many of our readers are familiar with the trio of officially licensed Olympic video games released by Sega: the more traditional title for consoles and PC, the less traditional but perhaps more important Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games, and a Sonic only. title for mobile.
What you may be less familiar with is the officially licensed Paralympic game, The Pegasus Dream Tour, which launched in June and hosted its own in-game concert as a closing ceremony over the weekend. end.
Every instance of the Summer Olympics since 1992 – and even some of the Winter Olympics – has come with at least one video game adaptation, giving players the chance to go for gold and achieve practically anything. than the vast majority of us ever get in real life.
“1.2 billion people are considered to have a disability. With diversity and inclusion becoming the norm in movies and on television, diversity is also needed in games.”
Still, the Pegasus Dream Tour is the first time Paralympic Games fans have been given the same opportunity. Why?
“Although the Paralympics themselves have a very high level of recognition, they don’t have as big a fan base as other gamified events such as the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup,” suggests Taeko. Yoshimoto, public relations manager at JP Games, developer of the title. .
“Although this is only a guess, we believe that for many companies it is not something that could be approached as easily or successfully, especially in terms of sales, but we have felt that we had a really unique proposition to approach the game. “
While previous Olympics focused primarily on home consoles, tapping into the demand for core sports games, The Pegasus Dream Tour was developed with more accessibility, both in terms of controls (more details in a instant) and audience. Naturally, that means it’s on mobile, both Android and iOS, and it’s free.
“Mobile is one of the fastest growing video game markets and by far the most accessible,” says Yoshimoto. “Since the goal of the game is to promote the appeal of the Paralympic Games to a large number of people, we chose mobile as a platform in the hope that it would encourage people who cannot. -be never played games before to take it.
“Many of our target players are not used to using both hands to freely move their avatars, so we designed the game so that it can be played easily and automatically without the need for advanced techniques.”
This is where another advantage of mobile lies. While console Olympics – even those of Mario & Sonic – often involve dexterous manipulation of a traditional gamepad, with quick reflexes and maybe not a small amount of mashed buttons as fast as possible, The Pegasus Dream Tour aims to be playable by people of all ages and abilities.
Much of the game is automated, including movement, with players instead focusing on how to improve their odds of winning. This can range from putting their character through workout exercises and workouts to making sure they are eating a diet for more energy. In the sports mini-games themselves, they can improve their avatar’s performance by touching the screen in time with the bars displayed on the screen.
“We wanted to convey the fun of the Paralympic Games, but didn’t want it to be just a collection of mini-games that recreated the competition.”
JP Games consulted Can I Play That, an online gaming community for people with disabilities, and various influencers with disabilities for feedback and to make sure the experience was authentic. To this end, the developer has also frequently consulted the International Paralympic Committee and even has avatars representing nine real-world athletes in the game.
“In order to learn more about them and the games, we frequently showed the games we were developing to the Paralympic Committee and other sports and para-athletic organizations, and received their opinions on content and phrases to ensure an accurate representation, ”Yoshimoto said. . “We have also received the cooperation of orthotic manufacturers to acquire their knowledge about the structure of orthotics.”
Orthotics consultations have gone a long way in allowing players to customize their avatars, not only with hairstyles and outfits, but also with wheelchairs and prosthetic arms and legs. This is one of the few cases where even disabled players can create a character that represents them more closely, enhanced by the fact that you can use a selfie to inform your avatar’s face structure.
Part of the emphasis on extensive customization options is that The Pegasus Dream Tour is more than just a typical sports game; it’s actually a mini MMO. Between events, players can explore the fictional town of Pegasus and interact with other players, as well as NPCs. Again, the accessibility-centric design means gamers simply swipe their finger across the touchscreen to move around and tap options when talking to people.
Pegasus City is presented as a sustainable metropolis, with a futuristic and clean look. And, like most live service games, it will evolve over time, adding new facilities to help players improve their para-athlete.
“We wanted to convey the fun of the Paralympic Games, but didn’t want it to be just a collection of mini-games that recreated the competition,” says Yoshimoto. Rather, our goal was to create a gaming experience in the Avatar RPG genre, where players support their avatar and work with their friends to achieve greatness as para-athletes.
She adds: “Pegasus City is a vision of an ideal city of the future, a city that embodies the philosophy of diversity and inclusion of the International Paralympic Committee. The city is barrier-free and wheelchair accessible, and is home to a vibrant community of avatars. with many different personalities. By simulating a fictional city where it is normal for avatars with diverse personalities to coexist, we hope that the real world can be inspired by it and help to create a society in the future where all personalities are equally respected. “
The game launched with two sports, 100m sprinting and boccia, with plans to add more over time. But even in its most basic version, The Pegasus Dream Tour achieved something rarely seen in video games: a better representation of disabilities. This is something Yoshimoto hopes to see the industry address in the near future.
“We have received a lot of feedback from players with disabilities that they are very happy to be able to create avatars that reflect the same disabilities that they have,” she said. “As well as faithfully reproducing real arms, legs and prosthetic wheelchairs, we can also create interesting designs that make people proud to wear them. We have received many positive comments from people with disabilities saying how much this level of customization is cool.
“According to the International Paralympic Committee, approximately 15% of the world’s population, or 1.2 billion people, are considered to have a disability. With diversity and inclusion becoming the norm in the world of movies and TV series, we believe that diversity in the representation of avatars, the alter ego of the player, is also necessary in games. We hope this game serves as a springboard and helps encourage the gaming industry to consider this level of inclusiveness in their own game development. “