After working with accessibility advocates for two years, Microsoft has just announced the Xbox Adaptive Controller. It’s designed to allow players with limited mobility to play Xbox and PC games. It’s a huge step forward for gaming accessibility, and means that tons of new players will get to enjoy games!
The controller allows players to customize the setup and provides plug-and-play ports that are compatible with several peripherals like mics, headphones, and accessibility rigs. It also has two large mobility buttons for easier access. Players can also map certain button bindings to different parts of the controllers, allowing for players to create gaming experiences that are best suited to their needs.
The modular nature of the controller makes it more a platform than a single, rigid tool. It doesn’t pre-judge what needs players may have, because it’s suited for a wide range of player types. It also incorporates the ability to connect with the original Xbox controller, which makes it even easier for players to pick how they want to play.
The controller was developed in partnership with AbleGamers, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged. AbleGamers has done great work, and was founded by Mark Barlet and Stephanie Walker, after Walker found that multiple sclerosis was preventing her from being able to play with a computer mouse. In addition to developing tools like the Adaptive Controller, they’ve also opened accessibility arcades across North America. SpecialEffect also develops technologies to help people with disabilities play video games, and they operate out of the United Kingdom.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller will be available in September, and pre-orders will be available after Microsoft’s E3 presentation this year.
The controller is available exclusively through Microsoft now, but the push towards a more inclusive game space is encouraging. While many consoles allow you to change color options and key bindings, this new platform means we’ll hopefully be seeing other hardware designers embrace tangible accessibility as well.