Baseball fan with disability inspires one-button gameplay mode in MLB 11: The Show

Hey may not have his own trading card, but 25-year-old Hans Smith is one of the most dedicated athletes on the St. Louis Cardinals' MLB 11 roster. Smith, a baseball fanatic with cerebral palsy, was added as a playable character to MLB 10: The Show after moving Sony developers with his passion for both the sport and gaming. This year, he'll be appearing once again in MLB 11: The Show, along with a new gameplay mode that he hopes will make it easier for other players with disabilities to get in on the game.

Built into the full-release title, the new mode takes its name and ideas from Smith's newly formed organization, the Association for Disabled Virtual Athletes. In it, one-button controls will be mapped to basic game functions like hitting and pitching, while AI will control more complex tasks such as running for the ball or sliding into home. Overall, says Smith, the new mode in MLB 11: The Show will open up online gaming to many fans like Smith who are just as dedicated to gaming as their able-bodied counterparts, but have lacked the means and opportunity to prove their sporting mettle.

"To some people, these are just games. But that's because at any time, they can turn off the console and go out to a ballpark and play baseball in the physical world. I can't do that," said Smith in his interview with ESPN, later explaining, "With a virtual organization, you can adjust the settings to whatever you want. If you can't do anything but push one button, then you can control everything else via the artificial intelligence. This levels the playing field for people who are otherwise outside the sports arena."

Reflecting on his association, Smith added, "There are so many people out there who are in wheelchairs but love sports. Because of that, I want to make it possible for them to have their dreams come true just like me. I know how exciting it was for me to finally play baseball. I want everyone to have that same feeling. That's what the Association for Disabled Virtual Athletes is all about.”

The full (and greatly inspiring) interview with Smith can be found at ESPN. He will appear in Cardinals uniform in MLB 11: The Show when it launches on March 8, 2011.

[Source: ESPN]

Jan 25, 2011

Matt Bradford wrote news and features here at GamesRadar+ until 2016. Since then he's gone on to work with the Guinness World Records, acting as writer and researcher for the annual Gamer's Edition series of books, and has worked as an editor, technical writer, and voice actor. Matt is now a freelance journalist and editor, generating copy across a multitude of industries.