A gamer bullied as a youngster because they were born without a hand finally feels their disability isn’t a hindrance, now they’ve been fitted with a bionic arm inspired by a hugely popular video game.
21-year-old Laiken Olive, who identifies as nonbinary, was born with a congenital limb difference and said they used to hide their disability before receiving the $11,000 bionic arm.
The young gamer has become the first recipient in the U.S. of the ‘Venom Snake’ arm developed by British robotics company Open Bionics. The inspiration for its look and design? Metal Gear Solid, which is soon to become a blockbuster film starring Oscar Isaac.
In the video game, the character Venom Snake loses his arm in an explosion and wears an iconic red and black bionic limb complete with detachable missile functionality and gadgets to stun enemies.
Although the Hero Arm isn’t equipped with weapons, it is custom built and uses myoelectric sensors to read electric outputs of the muscles to be converted into bionic hand movements.
Laiken said they felt empowered by the arm and finally saw their potential after years of being harassed in school. The South Louisianan explained, “I got bullied because of my arm, which led me to have a lack of confidence in myself. I doubted myself and just wanted to fit in with able-bodied people.
“I would wear this cosmetic prosthetic which looked like a hand and I would wear a jacket over that because of the bullying I experienced.
“I wanted to hide the fact I was different. It was a barrier or a shield so that people wouldn’t know… but with the Hero Arm I saw all the potential of what I could do with it and it wasn’t about hiding myself… This entire experience has been so beautiful for me.”
Laiken started their TikTok account around December 2020, and began cosplaying while proudly showing their prosthetic arm in different costumes.
In less than six months they have already amassed more than a million views, and their videos have been seen by people all over the world.