There is something special about being the first to achieve a new accomplishment. Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon. The Wright brothers were the first to master human flight. Charles Lindbergh was the first to fly across the Atlantic ocean.
In the world of indie game developers, Kenny Roy was the first to donate 100% of the proceeds from a game he created to charity. That game is called I, Hope—which is available now on Xbox One.
I, Hope is about a young girl whose village falls under attack by a vicious creature called Cancer. To aid in their quest, players must gather legendary items scattered across the land. Each legendary item represents a different virtue, such as knowledge, strength, and courage. It’s through these virtues that Hope must find a way to overcome insurmountable odds.
Inspired by games like The Legend of Zelda, I, Hope features solid game play as a puzzle-platformer. The art style is familiar, yet original. The controls are simple, which deepens the enjoyment of exploring each new environment. The game also embodies an uplifting message not common among indie titles.
Hospital patients in long term recovery face unique challenges. These challenges include intense feelings of isolation, uncertainty, and a lack of control. Though these patients are from all walks of life, it’s the youngest who are among those most affected and vulnerable. Kenny wanted to tell a story that these patients could identify with, while delivering a message of—well, hope.
Across the country, video games are growing in popularity as a way of improving the inpatient experience. In fact, studies have found enormous benefits to reducing stress using video games between treatments. The result is often reduced anxiety, which has a direct impact on quality of patient recovery.
As a one-man developer though, Kenny bravely confronted the challenges of developing a game single-handedly. But over the course of several months, the burden of completing the game began to take a toll. Then something amazing happened.
Much like a hero gathering allies to embark on a noble quest, the gaming community rallied around Kenny and his dream to bring I, Hope to life.
Companies like Unity, Microsoft, nVidia, and Razer donated software and computer products worth thousands of dollars towards the cause. DoublePlus Games got involved to lend its publishing expertise and support. Kenny was even flown out on several occasions to gather and apply real patient feedback.
As Kenny himself said, “I nervously entered the room of the first patient who would play the game that day, not knowing quite what to expect. A Child-Life worker wheeled the TV close to the bed and handed the controller to a young boy. The instant he touched the controller, I felt such a rush. Here was a child fighting for his life, taking some of his precious time to play my game. As he began, the fact that I was indeed going to complete the project, and do absolutely everything to make it the best game I possibly could, became an absolute certainty to me on a level deeper and clearer than anything I’ve ever known. Because the moment someone fighting this disease spends any of their time helping you with it, you’ve forfeited your right to stop. I called my wife outside the hospital room—I was crying, and she understood what I had to do.”
Kenny recalls being moved deeply during these play test sessions. Over many sleepless nights and hundreds of hours spent developing the game, when there was nothing else driving Kenny, it was the faces of those young patients that kept him going. It was the idea that by giving his art, I, Hope might bring real hope to those who need it the most.
As the sole beneficiaries, GameChanger Charity is proud to invest the game’s proceeds to support the right of every patient to play, learn, and socialize. Through Kenny Roy’s unprecedented bravery, perseverance, and generosity, thousands of patients will eventually benefit with the sale of each copy. Through the collaboration of industry forces both big and small, a powerful first in gaming history was established.
Only time will tell how long until another champion rises up in the name of delivering hope.