Despite the close of the 2020 Summer Paralympics, the event is far from over in the world of video games.
There’s also the officially licensed Paralympics game, The Pegasus Dream Tour, which launched in June and hosted its own in-game concert as a closing ceremony.
The Summer Olympic Games since 1992 — and even some Winter Olympic Games — have been accompanied by a video game adaptation, giving players the opportunity to go for the gold and achieve what most of us will never be able to do in real life.
“There are 1.2 billion people who have disabilities. As diversity and inclusion are becoming the norm in movies and television, diversity in games is also essential.”
The Pegasus Dream Tour is the first time fans of the Paralympics have been given the same opportunity. What’s the reason?
Taeko Yoshimoto, PR manager for the game’s developer JP Games, says that while the Paralympics has a high level of recognition, it doesn’t have as large a fan base as other gamified events such as the Olympics or football World Cups.
Despite this being only a hypothesis, we believe many companies won’t be able to tackle it as easily or successfully, especially in terms of sales, but we felt we had a really unique offering to approach the game from.”
Pegasus Dream Tour has been developed to be more accessible, both in terms of controls (more on that shortly) and audience. Consequently, it’s available both on Android and iOS, and it’s free to download and play.
According to Yoshimoto, “mobile is one of the fastest-growing markets in video games, and by far the most accessible.” Since the game is designed to encourage people who may not have played games before to get involved, the mobile platform was chosen.
“Many of our target players are not accustomed to using both hands to move their avatars freely, so we designed the game so that it can be played easily, automatically, and without requiring advanced techniques.”
Another advantage of mobile is its portability. While console Olympics games — even Mario & Sonic games — often require dexterous handling of a traditional gamepad with quick reflexes and perhaps an unhealthy amount of mashing buttons as quickly as possible, The Pegasus Dream Tour aims to be accessible to all ages and abilities.
Players can improve their chances of winning by putting their character through training exercises and workouts or by eating a nutritional diet for more energy. They can also boost their avatar’s performance by tapping the screen at the right time when the bars appear on the screen.
“We wanted to capture the spirit of the Paralympic Games, but we didn’t want it to be just a collection of minigames” in the games community for people with disabilities, and various influencers with disabilities to get feedback and ensure the experience was authentic. To that end, the developer also frequently consulted with the International Paralympic Committee and even has avatars representing nine real-world athletes in the game.
We frequently showed the games we developed to the Paralympic Committee and other athletic organizations and para-athletes in order to understand them with accuracy,” Yoshimoto says. “Orthopedic manufacturers also offered cooperation for the development of the games and concepts.”
Players with disabilities can create a character that more closely resembles them using the orthotics consultations, including wheelchairs, prosthetic arms, and legs. This is one of the few instances when even those without disabilities can customize their avatar.
Players can explore Pegasus City between events and interact with other players and NPCs via touch screen. Again, accessibility-centric design means players can freely move around and tap options while conversing.
Pegasus City is pitched as a sustainable metropolis, one with a clean futuristic look. And, as with most live service games, it will evolve over time, adding new facilities to help players level up their para-athlete.