“Reality is broken. Game designers can fix it” –

Jane Mcgonical

Video games excite us. There is no age limit to play video games and that’s the best thing about them. Playstations and Xbox have been mesmerizing us since ages with something to look up to with every update. And mind well the updates are always beyond satisfactory. This time Microsoft has launched Xbox Adaptive Controller enabling the people with disabilities to play video games.

Gamers with disabilities have always been asking for customizations in game controllers so its easy for them to use. The Xbox Adaptive controller has two large buttons on the face that you can control by elbows or legs. A player can add a foot pedal or other touch-sensitive switch to give the device more functionality.

The motto of such customizations is connectivity and adaptability with players to build a setup that works for their needs and capabilities. It is not an all-in-one solution for many games. But through the use of peripherals and the Xbox’s system-level button remapping, the possibilities could be endless.

How to customize controls?

The controller is customized for the gamers who cannot possibly reach the triggers and bumpers or hold controllers for a longer period of time. The controller also supports third-party options such as PDP’s One-handed Joystick, and other Logitech and Quadstick devices, by connecting them to the controller.

Some examples Microsoft mentions include a mouth-controller for the quadriplegic, mechanisms that allow players to operate buttons with their feet or legs, and all manner of alternate joysticks or larger, more ergonomic buttons. The controller also comes with software that allows players to remap buttons and works with “copilot” mode, where two players with two controllers can act as if they were a single player, working together on the same controller.

Need

All the other solutions existing today are hard to find, very expensive and require a personal technical skill. A number of individuals are creating custom solutions, but it has been often difficult for them to scale when most rigs need to be so personalized.

All these issues were kept in mind while developing the Xbox Adaptive Controller. It is made in partnership with these communities around the world  The AbleGamers CharityThe Cerebral Palsy FoundationCraig HospitalSpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged.  These teams helped in technicalities and the real users helped them to understand the problems.

At $99.99 USD, only available on  Microsoft Store. What Microsoft has shown is that inclusive design from the outset can have life-changing results, especially if it is guided by genuine consultation with those affected. “The disabled community has a saying,” points out Evelyn Thomas. “Nothing about us without us.”

Solomon Romney, the 80s arcade brat, who felt left behind by gaming puts it more prosaically. During a demo event for the controller, he’s spent the last twenty minutes telling his story, but finally, he goes quiet for a few moments and shrugs. “As a gamer with a disability, this thing felt like a love letter to me,” he says.