A new adaptive controller for the Xbox was presented at this year’s EACD conference in Paris. What a blast! People all over the world is engaged in gaming and of course we want everyone to be able to participate, no matter the type of mobility limitation.
Bryce Johnson is an engaged developer at Microsoft and explained how they previously assumed that everyone was able to and had the endurance to hold on to an ordinary controller. But that was not the reality. They recognized that they had made an exclusive design and decided to change this exclusion into an opportunity to create a new and inclusive device.
Input from the community helped shape design and functionality
From the very beginning Microsoft included a community of people with disabilities, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, and AbleGamers Charity among others into the process of design, testing and final product.
The newly developed adaptive controller have just two game play buttons, but at the back it is equipped with 19 jacks (3.5 mm) where you can connect a huge variety of external devices such as switches, buttons, joysticks and mounts. Each port is dedicated to a particular Xbox controller button. This makes the controller work as a unified hub, which is very flexible and possible to adapt to the individual person’s needs. Another option is “copilot”. You can link two controllers so they can be used as if they were one. It can be useful for parents when their kids are just getting the hang of using a controller but maybe aren't ready to jump in on their own quite yet.
Video games can be useful in dealing with disability
Gaming engages both children, youngsters and adults and it is not just for amusement, Bryce Johnson explains, it is a community, it connects people and people make new friends. He also points out that for some people participating in video games it allows them to be a gamer first. They can choose how to represent themselves. Behind the screen they can choose which of the characters they want to be - and play that role. At a very basic, fundamental level, the gaming is simply about providing a sense of control, and it often gives agency to those who have limited influence or control in their real lives!
You might have read the touching story about Mats Steen, a Norwegian gamer with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, who was a skilled gamer. After he died, his parents understood what an important role gaming had been in his life and how many good friends he had made. When he died, people from all over Europe lit a candle in memory of Mats; they were his true friends. This story explains well that gaming can be important for people with disabilities by giving an opportunity to be a gamer first!
It’s fantastic to see how Microsoft has engaged in making gaming more accessible to people with limited mobility and also to an affordable price. Maybe something to test out this summer?
Zach Anner who is an American comedian, actor and writer with cerebral palsy, has been testing the adaptive controller together with a friend. Have a look here on how it went.
For more information about the controller we encourage you to look into Microsoft's webpage and search other webpages for reviews to see if it fits your needs before purchasing a device.