Why Can’t Games Like ‘Battlefront’ Be Bit More SMA Friendly?
I don’t really consider myself a gamer these days. I enjoy video games, and will occasionally take the day off to play the newest Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion, but it’s not my passion anymore. But 12 years ago, video games — in particular, Star Wars Battlefront II, not the sleek 2017 incarnation, but the 2005 version — were an obsession.
My dad brought home a loaner Playstation 2 from Blockbuster Video after my spinal fusion, so I would have something to do while I recovered. A couple of months later, he rented Star Wars Battlefront II, and my life changed — for the better.
We spent hours playing together. Killing battle droids was one of our favorite pastimes. We were always on the same side, though. We didn’t want any of that competition business — even though it really wasn’t a competition, since I was clearly the superior player — to spoil our fun. I was in middle school at the time. Which probably says it all.
There were growing pains, sure. But there were also bouts of sickness. And of isolation, self-hatred — I’d known for years that I was “different,” but my time in junior high really showed me just how “different” I was. I didn’t like the body I’d been given. I didn’t want the body I’d been given. I didn’t want the crooked teeth; the lame legs; the awful, broad-hooked nose.
I had one friend. Just one. Most days, I felt bitingly alone. I would come home with a heavy heart, too big for my monstrosity of a body, and my dad and I would play through a couple of maps. Coruscant first, then Kamino, Kashyyyk, Hoth …
I would tell him how sad I was. And he would say, “I know.” He would say, “Just hang in there. Everything’s gonna be OK.”
I was depressed. I know that now, but back then, the darkness was too thick — too soupy — to peer through. So I found refuge in one of the few things that made sense to me. I mastered every class, memorized every map (except for Jabba’s Palace, which is unequivocally the worst). And that’s how I made it through. Moment by moment, day by day.
My love for Battlefront eventually blossomed into a love for all things Star Wars. I read the books; I played the video games. When Episode VII came out, my dad and I went to the theater dressed as Chewbacca and a Jedi knight.
It almost felt like old times.
The thing about SMA is that, with time, you lose … everything. Muscle tone. The ability to feed yourself. Range of motion, to a certain extent.
I can’t play Playstations anymore. I can’t even lift the controller. Which is fine — the console’s dated, and I’ve found other games to fill the void. But sometimes my dad and I will find ourselves nostalgic for the hours we spent huddled in front of the TV, screaming at the droideka that’d somehow managed to decimate our battalion, slinking through the bright-white tunnels of the Rebel base on Hoth.
When Electronic Arts announced it was rebooting the Battlefront franchise, I was ecstatic. I’m pretty sure I called my dad — was he at work? Running errands? Either way, his priority at the time probably wasn’t video games — and I babbled for a solid five minutes. When the release day came I realized, thankfully before buying a pass, that the game wasn’t accessible.
Fast-forward. April 14, 2017. The teaser for Episode VIII, The Last Jedi, drops. EA also announces Star Wars Battlefront II and, according to some of the tweets I’ve seen, it looks amazing. Better than the original. I still haven’t watched the trailer.
There are gaps in my knowledge, especially when it comes to accessibility. I don’t know the first thing about making video games accessible to disabled people, mainly because there are so many different ways to go about it — adjustable contrast levels? Cutscene subtitles? Difficulty settings? Text size? But I have to start somewhere.
So, I’ll start here: I want to play Battlefront. So this is me putting the ball in EA/Bioware/insert-game-developer-here’s court.
Your serve, y’all.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.