The type of experiences that VR allows us to have ranges from the amazing to the ordinary. Ordinary doesn’t necessarily mean boring, though, and just sometimes what’s ordinary for one person can be a new experience for another. That saying of “put yourself in another person’s shoes’ is usually translated very literally in virtual reality, and no more so than ViRa Games’ upcoming Wheelchair Simulator VR which puts a comedic spin on a serious issue. Not that having fun doesn’t mean you can’t also have an educational experience.
Accessibility is a real issue for wheelchair-bound people across the world and Kiev-based indie developer is very much in tune with this issue. The game lets you experience the world from the perspective of someone who is paralyzed, along with their (albeit exaggerated here) struggle with getting around in the said world. The story of Wheelchair Simulator VR was written and is voiced by Dmytro Schebetyuk – who suffered a spinal injury that bound him to his wheelchair.
That hasn’t stopped him from living life to the fullest, though, so he’s along for the ride and cracks some jokes, shares his thoughts, and comments on your fails while you try to navigate the world in a wheelchair. The game lets you see life in the city from a different angle, while showing how ill-suited many cities can be for people with physical challenges. The aim of Wheelchair Simulator VR is to make players realize how they take ordinary things like getting around on a busy street for granted, while still offering a fun VR experience. So if it wasn’t clear from the theme, Wheelchair Simulator VR is a seated experience where you use your hands to turn the virtual wheels at your sides to get around in-game.
Check out the trailer:
“Wheelchair Simulator throws you into a “slightly” exaggerated inaccessible city on two wheels while being accompanied by sarcastic jokes and real stories from the life of (the very much real) Dmytro Schebetyuk,” ViRa Games said on their website.
ViRa’s game designer Igor Kachinskij said they became aware of the challenges wheelchair-bound people in Ukraine face after the team saw videos of Schebetyuk and his Dostupno UA initiative online. “They made us realise that Ukrainian cities are very poorly adapted for people with special needs and these issues are almost completely invisible to “normal” people,”. So we decided to change that,” said Kachinskij in a prepared statement. “We quickly made a locomotion prototype, and reached Dmytro with our idea to literally put other people in his shoes (well, in this particular case, his wheelchair) in VR. Dmytro had a blast with the prototype and agreed to share his life story, talent and sense of humor with the project.”
Wheelchair Simulator VR is set to release for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive on Steam on May 7th. ViRa Games also plans to bring the game to Viveport and the Oculus Store in the future. According to the studio, profits earned from the game will be donated to the Dostupno UA initiative that supports accessibility programs and films video blogs about infrastructure and life of people with disabilities in Ukraine.
Well, it’s for a good cause, so get wheeling!