Before Hello Games made a name for itself with the procedurally generated space adventure No Man’s Sky, its developer was all about Joe Danger, a cartoonish motorcycle stuntman racing through an eponymous series of console and mobile games. After years of being defunct due to iOS updates, the Joe Danger mobile games are back in the App Store today, thanks in part to a father’s emailed plea on behalf of his autistic, Joe Danger-loving son.
In an official announcement heralding the newly restored and updated iOS versions of Joe Danger Touch and Joe Danger Infinity, Hello Games’ Sean Murray revealed that letting the stunt-driving hero fall to the wayside following the success of No Man’s Sky was a source of shame for his UK-based studio.
“Joe holds a special place in our hearts. It was our first game when we were still four guys in a shed, trying to get noticed,” Murray writes. “We sold over a million copies of Joe Danger, and every week we still get emails from fans. Sadly since iOS culled older games, it no longer worked on [the] latest Apple devices. It’s always been a secret shame of ours that the success of No Man’s Sky left Joe Danger unloved.”
While the console and Android Joe Danger games are still perfectly playable, fans who fell in love with the character’s motorcycle maneuvers on iOS were left in the dirt. While some players were happy to go play with Joe on another platform, an eight-year-old autistic fan named Jack would accept no substitute. In a letter to Hello Games shared by Sean Murray on Twitter this morning, Jack’s father talked about his child’s touching relationship with the series.
“As you probably know, children with autism deal with a great many struggles, chief among them are great difficulty with social interactions,” Jack’s father wrote. “However, one of the things that has enabled Jack and I to bond is our shared love of video games, specifically Joe Danger. Jack loves Joe. He loves everything about him. He has a collection of toy motorcycles that are his ‘Joe Dangers;’ every motorcycle we see on the street is ‘Joe Danger.’ One of the first things I hear when I walk in the door after a long day at work is ‘Come on, daddy, let’s go play Joe Danger!’”
Jack’s father goes on to talk about how playing the game has allowed the child to have fun with friends and family and experience what he calls “normal kid stuff”. His connection also helps him cope with difficult situations. “There have been times too innumerous to count where I know Jack is uneasy with a given situation, because he will look at me and say ‘Then I get Joe Danger?’ It’s his way of saying ‘this is going to suck for me for a bit, but I known I can get through it.’”
Unfortunately, iOS upgrades rendered both Joe Danger Touch and Joe Danger Infinity unplayable, leaving Jack and his father despondent. As a child with autism, Jack was used to playing his games on a certain type of device, so simply switching was out of the question. And so Jack’s father emailed Hello Games and, according to Sean Murray, those words helped drive the studio to remaster both Joe Dangers for iOS 15. Both are now available on iOS for two dollars apiece, with previous owners getting the new versions for free.
As the father of a pair of children on the autism scale, the story of Jack hits home. While every autistic child is different, Jack’s experience sounds similar to some that I’ve experienced with my 10-year-old son Archer. He likes his games a certain way, and uses them to help soothe himself in difficult situations. He’s also a big Joe Danger fan, but he plays on Xbox. I’ve got both iOS versions downloaded to his gaming phone for when he gets home from school today.