Video games are a window to the world for travelers with disabilities. Advanced technology and experience can evoke real things that bring health benefits to home players.
Nature as Medicine
There is ample evidence of the health benefits of being in nature. According to a 2019 study, staying more than two hours a week lowers cortisol levels (cortisol causes stress) and reduces the risk of illness and mental health problems.
Such benefits can have a significant impact on the lives of people with disabilities who are often depressed, stressed or anxious. Studies show that the path to nature in the form of so-called forest baths and gardening can relieve chronic pain and prevent the symptoms of winter depression in the colder months.
And this is where a realistic new video game with an emphasis on the outdoors could be a heavenly blessing for travelers’ homes. Studies show that virtual nature experiences with photos, videos, and recordings have the same therapeutic effect as physical experiences. For example, in 2017, Swiss doctors discovered that given a VR headset with images of nature, the recovery of IC patients would be faster.
Building the World
Video games are simulations, but they are more effective than video tours and photo series. “When I’m watching a movie or video, I’m passive as a viewer,” says Sid Dobrin, author of Mediating Nature: The Role of Technology in Ecological Literacy. “When I play video games, I am involved to some extent.”
Technical applications such as photogrammetry and LIDAR make video games even more realistic and can also sell rust skins for the visual effect of the game. Lidar (short for Light Detection and Ranging) is currently used on some smartphones but has been used on airplanes since the 1960s to measure the distance from the earth.
Creating Video Games for Travel Destinations
Tourism organizations are taking advantage of this trend by turning travel destinations into video games. Recently, the European Union has funded the development of 40 games at eight destination locations. One of these prototypes focuses on the historic Spanish Villanova. Players embark on an adventure in the Mediterranean to learn about the history and culture of the region.
While this trend looks promising, video games are not a substitute for personal accommodation available to everyone. Ensuring better accessibility is a constant pursuit and challenge in nature tourism.