I have to admit I was always hooked by the hype surrounding Little Big Planet, in build up to it’s release last year I was itching to get my hands on it and I bought it on launch date.
When I finally got my hands on it although I thought it was brilliant my interest waned a little at the realisation that i’m not a born platformer and that what I really wanted to do was create levels… which I could, just with a pretty sparse kit bag of objects, decorations and stickers because to get access to all of the goodies you needed to pretty much ace every single player level.
With the release of the Game of the Year Edition (TBA) I thought i’d dust of my copy and give it another go. And while it’s true I still stink at platformers I soon plunged head first into LBP Universe and all it has to offer… including Stephen Fry’s wonderful narration and guidance (I wonder if he has created a level?) LBP is a wonderful creative place, much of that is down to the excellent community spirit, LBP unlike Playstation Home is a pretty “Safe” place to be. You are unlikely to come across anything or anyone nasty. I can’t help wondering that despite my recent praise of PS3 Home whether Sony wouldn’t be better off just ditching it and adapting LBP to do the same job. Especially given the lacklustre 1.3 update that failed to deliver half of the content outlined on the US Playstation Blog.
Accessibility & Disability Discrimination
After a few evenings off contented LBP exploration I decided to have a go at creating my own level, except this time I used a completed Little Big Planet game save data file created by another user: 100% unlocked and ready to realise my LBP creations, and tada… LBP gave me a reason to believe the hype. I’ve often thought that when you buy a game you can’t complete your throwing money away – especially if it includes items and features that you cannot access. I admit that I’m rubbish at the playing LBP but taken from a more serious point of view what do people with some form of disability do when it comes to video games?
A quick answer to that comes from my partner who works as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist “They struggle” and for what? The want of a “Skip Level” or “Invincibility” cheat? My partner tells me things we’re so much easier when you could enter cheat codes and recounted a number of incidents in the past when in training she worked as a carer for a man with a severe neurological disease, he loved computer games, would spend a fortune on them but very rarely got far into them unless someone operated the controller while he directed them. Yet with the right features and controllers it could have been possible for him to have a better direct experience of the game. Similarly one PSN friend of mine recently broke his hand and can no longer play his games… I was pretty surprised at this as I seem to recall that in the PS2 era you could buy one handed controllers It seems that since the advent of online console gaming, trophies and achievements that “cheats” have become less and less a feature of games. Which is a great shame because ultimately this isn’t about “Disability” in my eyes but “access” if I pay £40 for a game I pretty much expect to get every last ounce of sterling out of it, and yet I don’t think we do anymore.
Some games find ways around this, but they are not perfect; “Need for Speed: Shift” allows players to buy cars for real money if they don’t have enough “in-game” money, from a certain perspective you could see that as a “tax” on someone’s inability (for whatever reason) to complete certain elements of a game.
Although I live a fairly able life I too am classed “disabled” but I’m grateful I am able to enjoy many games, I just cannot help wondering why game developers are not more accommodating to what appears to be a not too insignificant portion of their audience who might experience difficulties in fully enjoying their products.
For more information about gaming aids and to join a great community check out www.ablegamers.com
Escape from Fang Rock – Little Big Planet Level
In a moment of selfless promotion: Check out “Escape from Fang Rock” (by Kada-Dix) my latest Little Big Planet levels featuring mechanical lifts, steam trains, explosives, rusty racers, poison gas, a flying machine and lots of prizes, points and easter eggs!