'Gaming for Everyone' is Microsoft's motto from Xbox and encapsulates their mission to make Xbox a more fun, diverse and inclusive place for everyone to play. Unfortunately 'everyone' has not always included all gamers, as many felt frustrated by the standard controller that made the console unplayable for people with a variety of health conditions and impairments. For those with mobility-limiting conditions the standard controller is challenging due to its inflexibility and inability to connect with assistive technology if, for example, you need to use a one-handed joystick.
But finally, gaming will be for everyone thanks to the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which was released this month as part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.
About the Xbox Adaptive Controller
Numerous features reveal inclusivity as the primary function of the device: like nineteen 3.5mm jack inputs to attach all the peripherals that can ease a user's gaming experience and two large buttons with light resistance and easy remapping of in-game controls.
The controller is the first of its kind released by a major company and targeted at the disability community, making this an important step forward in the accessibility in gaming space.
It is however important to acknowledge the work of smaller organisations such as SpecialEffect, an AbilityNet Tech4good Awards winner, that for some time have been using a range of modified and off-the-shelf technology to help people with physical disabilities to play video games.
V&A museum adds the Xbox Adaptive Controller to its collection
The Xbox Adaptive Controller was recently acquired by the V&A museum and added to their Rapid Response Collecting gallery because of its outstanding design.
Corinna Gardner, senior curator at the V&A, commented on the Xbox Adaptive Controller being added to a gallery at the V&A: "The Rapid Response Collecting is about bringing objects into the museum that signal moments of economic, political, social and technological change... The Xbox Adaptive Controller was an object that we thought very much captured a specific moment within the field of video games but also more broadly about social and inclusive design. It’s a real opportunity to bring an object into the collection that addresses the question of inclusive design head on. It’s an important and attractive acquisition for us here at the V&A."
The importance of accessibility in gaming
The reason gaming is so important for so many people is because it is the only form of medium that can unite imagination and interactivity to such a degree that you can put yourself in the center of the action. It makes you feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment whenever you complete an objective and the majority of people, with or without a disability, will otherwise not experience the thrill of driving a Ferrari in Monte Carlo or swinging around New York City like Spiderman.
Millions of players have been unable to enjoy video games because of the lack of support for users with health conditions and/or impairments, but recently there has been an apparent shift towards holistic adoption of accessibility and inclusive design approaches. Many games have dedicated accessibility settings that, for example, allow you to make text larger and deactivate quick time-events where the player has to press a button in a limited time. These features are being warmly received by all players, with the wider gaming community appreciating features being present that make games interesting, fun, and arguably most importantly - more accessible for people with disabilities.