Gaming is an inherently joyful experience. It’s meant to be competitive, challenging, and fun for all, but it’s not necessarily inclusive of all. And that's about to change.
Being a gamer generally requires you to have 20/20 vision, perfectly functional appendages and at least a reasonable degree of hand-eye coordination. For the average person, checking all those boxes is easy. However, even the tiniest of issues in any of the above departments can completely ruin your gaming experience.
Something as simple as a thumb injury could render you incapable of holding a controller. But what of those with more severe disabilities, people suffering from cerebral palsy, a genetic disorder, a debilitating disease? These people have little hope of playing the games of their choice.
Microsoft, as part of its efforts towards making its technology more inclusive, has announced a brand-new controller for the Xbox platform. Dubbed the Xbox Adaptive Controller (Microsoft truly has no imagination when it comes to naming things), the new accessory could transform the lives of differently-abled gamers the world over.
Rather than build a one-size-fits-all controller that has to take in the length and breadth of an almost infinite range of disabilities, the Adaptive Controller offers a simpler, more modular design.
With the new controller, you could play with one hand and a foot, use your chin, an elbow or even a shoulder to press a button or move a joystick. It’s a truly inclusive design.
To look at, the heart of the controller is a flat cuboid. Two large, black pads (think Steam controller) occupy most of the surface and a regular D-Pad and a few other buttons sit beside the pads. The magic happens at the back.
The rear of the controller is festooned with 3.5 mm headphone jacks. Yes, that very same global standard that Apple has been trying so hard, and with some success, to kill off (Damn you, Apple!).
But we digress. There is one port for every function of the Xbox. Each of these functions can be entirely replaced by a new controller. If you need to replace X and Y with pedals at your feet, go ahead! If you need to place a trigger under your chin, just jack it in and it will work!
It’s a brilliantly simple and adaptive design. And better yet, the device even has a USB port for plugging in joysticks. All buttons can be reprogrammed as needed.
The controller is also compatible with a wide variety of standardised mounting systems.
With the Xbox Adaptive Controller, it certainly seems like any gamer, no matter their situation, can enjoy games on their own terms.