Gaming for all – How adaptive controllers are helping to change the lives of people with a disability
In September 2018, Xbox announced their new adaptive wireless controller which has been designed primarily for gamers with limited mobility. The controller has large programmable buttons and nineteen ports. This, combined with the two USB ports has meant that the controller can work not only with an Xbox, but with a PC or PlayStation.
After a video went viral of a father adapting the controller for his two children with paraplegia so they could play the Nintendo Switch, plans are now in place to create a guide for setting up the Xbox controller to work alongside other devices.
As everyone’s mobility issues differ, the multiple ports mean that the controller can be modified to work with each individual’s specific needs. These can include controllers which are operated by the user’s eyes, mouth, chin or feet for example. It is also possible to add a larger joystick to the product – a feature which previously had made gaming inaccessible for many with limited mobility.
Xbox have worked closely with charities including The AbleGamers and SpecialEffect which helped to shape the design of the controller. These charities can modify or even personally create equipment specifically suited to each gamer’s need and the specific games they want to play. With these charities also creating YouTube videos on how to use the controller efficiently, ease of use if assistance is required, perhaps from someone not well versed with gaming, is increased.
For many individuals who have experienced a disability later in life, gaming can help to put the fun and inclusion back into their lives with a hobby they may have previously enjoyed. While, for the younger generation, gaming is often a way to socialise and interact with friends, and the new controller will ensure they are no longer excluded from this enjoyment. Gaming can help to bring people together with family and friends. During a time where social distancing is required, a chance to bring inclusion and fun to the lives of someone with a disability is incredibly important.
Whilst the costs associated with a disability can sometimes seem clear-cut, such as the need for rehabilitation, therapies or additional assistance from a carer, there are also day to day activities which are made significantly more difficult. By working closely with charities and allowing for multiple adaptations, the Xbox controller has helped to open up the world of gaming for those with disabilities – a difficulty which may for some time, have been overlooked.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we can help our clients manage the effects of a brain injury. We work with them to identify and provide support for their difficulties and we understand the importance of treatment, therapies, guidance and equipment, which is vital for rehabilitation.