There is a wheelchair in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It’s nothing fancy. It doesn’t roll. The power wheelchair I use in real-life would crush it like a monster truck. But it is there, in the game, and it makes me very happy.
I’ve been paralyzed from the chest down for two years. Half of my life is spent in my wheelchair. I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. It’s just how things are now. I’m a guy in a wheelchair. Now, thanks to Nintendo and a very cool internet friend who helped me obtain the virtual mobility aid, I can be a guy in a wheelchair in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
I can hear some of you walking people wondering why I would want to be a guy in a wheelchair in an escapist video game. In New Horizons, I can run, walk, and climb. I can hop on a plane to visit friends, something that’s difficult for a wheelchair-bound person my size. I can do all of those things, and that is great. I can also feel included.
That’s not something that handicapped folks can do easily in video games. Video games are often a form of fantasy fulfillment, and no one’s fantasy is not being able to hold a gun, drive a car, or move without mechanical assistance. For many gamers, however, that’s reality, and it’s nice to see that acknowledged in some small way.
The New Horizons wheelchair means a lot to me. I imagine it means a lot to many people. It might not be as cool as the wheelchair B.J. rides in the opening of Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, but it’s also much less stupid.
And yeah, being able to stand up out of it is nice.