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Through advanced simulation video games, players with disabilities can experience the great outdoors, creating their own world while traveling to different destinations and engaging in activities on their own terms. Video games are often thought of as negative distractions, and, with 227 million players in the U.S. alone, it’s easy to view it as an addiction or something that takes precious time away from more fruitful activities, like perhaps spending time outdoors.
However, during the pandemic, video games provided much-needed solace to many, with 55% of players reporting that they played more during quarantine. For people with disabilities, many who couldn’t leave the house even before the pandemic, video games can be truly life-changing.
Gamers with Disabilities Can Virtually Travel the World
We’re all well aware of the benefits that being outside can have on mental health — even just two hours of weekly outdoor time has been found to significantly lower stress, anxiety, depression, and even disease. For those with disabilities, however, getting outside can prove difficult. Even if they do manage to get out, they are more than likely excluded from many activities.
Wheelchair access is still not widely available, and many national parks and trails are dangerous to those with wheelchairs or crutches. This, in part, is why 3.6 million Americans with disabilities are practically homebound. This is where video games come in.
Although photographs and videos of nature scenes are also therapeutic, video game simulations are much more impactful on mental health due to active participation as opposed to just passive viewing. Some of these games require players to remain engaged and, for instance, find accommodations and supplies, act in emergency situations, and hike in mountainous regions and along streams.
Some video games are in virtual reality format so players can hear the water in surround sound and almost feel the changing seasons. Advanced technologies to make these video games more realistic are constantly being updated. These include light detection and ranging (lidar) scanning which measures the distance of objects and photogrammetry to create lifelike 3D imagery.
Walden, a Game
One such popular video game to give players a healthy dose of the great and wondrous outdoors is Walden, a Game, based on American philosopher Henry David Thoreau’s life when he moved to the Pond and built a cabin in an experiment with self-reliant living in 1845. The players have to live as he did by trying to find supplies such as food, fuel, and clothing, and they have to maintain the shelter, go fishing, and chop wood, surrounded by the beautiful Pond and woods throughout the seasons.
Image Credit: 24K-Production / Shutterstock.com
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