Ben steps into a computerized world engulfed in new game levels and points – a world away from the fear of his leukemia. Computer games are the only things that helped Ben stay positive while in and out of the hospital.
Nine-year-old Ben asked the Make-A-Wish® Greater Bay Area chapter if he could create a video game to help kids with cancer relieve some pain and stress involved with their treatments – to give them a way to fight back.
At first everyone was a bit pessimistic as they discovered a venture like this could cost nearly millions of dollars and take several years.
But thankfully Eric Johnston, on behalf of LucasArts – a leader in publishing and developing interactive entertainment software – stepped forward to help share the power of a wish®. Eric not only wanted Ben’s wish to become a reality, he planned for Ben to be involved in every step of the process.
So Ben and Eric – with the medical expertise of Ben’s physician Dr. Seymour Zoger, - begin the process meeting on a regular basis to really hone down Ben’s vision.
The creation team decides the game should closely resemble the real life battle of chemotherapy. Just like in treatment, the players would strive to destroy all mutated cells and collect shields of strength and protection. But they have to fight; these shields are guarded by monsters –Iceman, Robarf, Big Chicken, Fire, Vamp, Qball and Tornado – each associated with a common side effect of chemotherapy: colds, vomiting, chicken pox, fever, bleeding, hair loss and rashes respectively.
The players’ shields - earned through courage - enable them to reach three different health levels: health you get from hospital, ammunition you get from the pharmacy and attitude you get from home.
Dr. Zoger says the science behind these levels and characters came from what Ben learned himself in dealing with his treatments.
Now it’s ready for publication and distribution! The University of California at San Francisco’s Children’s Hospital serves as the first medical facility to install the game for its patients.
“Eric and Ben achieved the impossible!” says Patricia Wilson, Greater Bay chapter executive director.