Microsoft unveiled their new Adaptive Controller last night, designed for increased accessibility while playing Xbox. The Adaptive Controller offers two analog sticks, a headphone port, USB port and 17 button inputs. These allow for users with disabilities to connect their controller to a series of peripherals, customising their controller for accessibility. Peripherals include the mouth operated quadstick, PDP one handed joystick, similar to the Wii nunchuck, RAM mounts, with jelly buttons for round ended limbs, and buttons of various sizes. This highly customisable and extremely specific variety of peripherals is perfect for tailoring the Adaptive Controller to specific needs. The price is currently estimated at $99.99, which is modest compared to other adaptive controllers. Microsoft also released a trailer, detailing their experience testing the adaptive controller with members of the community.
A small product that will go a long way
While the majority of gamers are fortunate enough to never need the Adaptive Controller, it is a huge help for those who do. Currently, controllers are either do not offer enough accessibility for individual needs or are custom built and extremely expensive. As Microsoft is such a big company, having a significant brand put such a large amount of resources into accessibility is huge. Now that a mass produced, first party, adaptive controller is available, Xbox has done a service to the disabled community.
Microsoft Story Labs wrote an article detailing some of the stories of testers and their joy at being able to game again. One such story is of Microsoft Stores retail learning specialist, Solomon Romney. Romney, who was born without fingers on his left hand, was able to completely customise the controls to his needs. The story details how he became emotional, as the Adaptive Controller eliminated feelings of otherness. In essence, that is the importance of accessibility on this scale. Gaming, as a medium that is enjoyed regardless of race, gender or sexuality, is now even more inclusive.
Romney tells Microsoft “I can make the controls fit my body, my desires, and I can change them anytime I want. I get to resign my controller every day and get to choose how I want to play, for me, that’s the greatest thing ever.”