Stay-at-home dad creates kid-friendly VR game
LAKEWOOD, Ohio — A northeast Ohio dad is creating a kid-friendly virtual reality game based on the designs of his son, who is on the autism spectrum.
Like many children, Nathan Kildren loves technology, as does his father, Thomas Kildren. Kildren is a stay-at-home dad and VR games have become part of his and his son’s daily routine.
Their favorite VR game is called “Booper, Get Home!” It’s the story of a child who goes to the park one day and gets lost. He embarks on an epic adventure to return home. The best part of the game is that Kildren created it himself.
“As soon as I tried virtual reality, I realized it was something I needed to develop,” Kildren said.
(Children with her two sons, Nathan and Seth)
Nathan is on the autism spectrum and loves art. “Booper, go home!” is based on Nathan’s many drawings. You can watch a trailer for the game here.
“I’ve got a stack of sketchbooks, 18 out of 24, that’s about yay high he’s filled,” Kildren said. “I’m going to take his squiggles and I’m going to use that as a base for dirt or grass or mountains and things like that. And obviously all the characters, all the buildings, the plants, everything else is something he drew.
Kildren recently launched his own one-man game development company called Fletcher Studios.
“Booper, go home!” is his first game. It is unreleased but has already won awards.
“I got an award at GDEX last September for best music and sound design. And at the Cleveland Gaming Classic, an award for most creative,” Kildren said. “I wasn’t very good at sports. , I wasn’t the best academically, so for me to start getting awards so late in life, it’s pretty exciting.”
Kildren has big plans for the game if it takes off, including giving back to autism charities.
“I would like a portion of the proceeds to go towards autism awareness and acceptance,” Kildren said. “And if the game really takes off, I’d really like to create a companion app for parents to use their smartphones, take a picture of their own kids’ drawings, and the app would clip the platform and animate it so that a child can play their own drawing in the game.
And if the game goes nowhere, it’s a bonding experience for him and his sons.
“Twenty years from now my kids might pull out the old VR headset and dust it off and say, ‘Hey, me and the old man, we did this together,'” Kildren said.
Most VR games now revolve around shooting, survival, or sports; not many are suitable for young children. In “Booper, go home!” there is no fight or fight. Instead, play inspires young children to use their imaginations while providing an element of education.
“The fact that someone with autism can contribute, and not just be a disabled person, has things they can add to the world, whether it’s art, music, whether it’s just the thoughts of their head, if they can just put it down,” Kildren said. “That’s something they can also give back. Hey, maybe I can do something too.”
Kildren hopes the game will bring about positive change, not just in the alternate world it plays in, but in the real world we live in.
“I hope this kind of creative effort helps other families come together to help bring people together,” Kildren said.
Kildren is currently looking for angel investors. He needs support and funding to complete and promote the game. He would like Fletcher Studios to move from an independent studio to a micro studio.
“Some things like my companion app, I’m going to have to hire smarter people than me to finish that,” Kildren said. “And obviously just people to help with the heavy lifting in terms of game development, composers, people who can, you know, test my game to make sure it’s working properly, people will give me comments on oh, it’s boring and dull, it’s way too intense and exciting. And just to help make this the best product it can be.
For more information about the game, you can visit here.