It was a simple conversation with his wish granters that helped Ryan, 12, who lives with spinal muscular atrophy, join Make-A-Wish Arizona history with the first ever "I wish to be a video game designer” wish experience.
“We thought he might be interested in a trip or something along those lines but when the conversation turned to video games, you saw his eyes light up and that was it,” said Jonathan, Ryan’s father. “That spark is what Make-A-Wish Arizona is all about.”
That spark has become one of the most detailed and unique wishes in the history of Make-A-Wish Arizona, thanks to Ryan’s creation, Monkey Wars, an online video game now available free through the Apple store.
“I like monkeys and I like video games so I thought, why not put them together?” said Ryan.
Ryan has a long habit of going beyond expectations. Diagnosed at birth with spinal muscular atrophy, the doctors told his parents that most children with Ryan’s condition rarely lived past the age of 2-years-old. Ten years later, Ryan is still defying odds, working for three years with nine special video game designers at Arizona-based Pixel Jinn to make his wish a reality.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Ryan says of his first meeting with the video game designers. “I was there with all of the experts, but they were asking me questions. It was awesome.”
Ryan was involved in every aspect of the game development, from working with the graphic artists on backgrounds and character development, to helping to create the rules. The most important element to Ryan was helping to pick the sounds that would accompany the action.
The game was developed as an Apple application due to Ryan’s condition, which makes it difficult for him to control regular video games but allows him all kinds of freedom to play on iPads, iPods and iPhones.
“I can do pretty much anything that anyone else can do, but it has to be a different way or it might need a little bit of adapting,” said Ryan.
There was no need to adapt at all during his wish thanks to the designers at Pixel Jinn! Through the three year process, some designers took new positions and even moved out of state but they never wavered from their commitment to create Monkey Wars.
Ryan’s wish was completed thanks to 100 percent in-kind donations of time, expertise and resources of Pixel Jinn and the designers.
Now, Ryan's friends, family and the public can download his creation, Monkey Wars, and try to beat it.
“I can say that this is the one thing my friend’s have never done and so far, no one has beat it, not even my mom,” said Ryan. “This is my wish come true.”