To Microsoft, Gaming is About Inclusion
I have been a gamer since I was a young boy. I’m not someone who grew out of one of my favorite hobbies, and I have owned quite a bit of the video game hardware released since the Atari 2600 and the original NES. I was an 80s kid. I spent hundreds of hours hopping on on the heads of Goombas and turtles in Super Mario Bros, and watching as a dog laughed at me as I missed a shot in Duck Hunt with the Nintendo light gun. I also was raised in a family that was very accepting and understanding for people with disabilities. My father had polio and was born before the vaccine, and my brother is autistic. I have always been around people who show me they are so much more than their disabilities, and have taught me to grow as a human being.
As a boy, I watched my father bowl by taking a set of his crutches and filing one of them down a bit so he could lean and throw the ball better. He played basketball. He drove a car. He chopped firewood. Now, I could tell by watching him, that these things weren’t easy, but he was determined to do them anyway. I look back on how hard my father worked to do basic things, and think of all of the other determined individuals who do this every day, just to get around and live their life. What if at least something they did for fun could be easier? Enter the Xbox Adaptive Controller by Microsoft.
Microsoft created a large rectangular controller that is highly customizable to cover a large swath of assistive and Joystick devices. On the front there is a traditional D-pad, menu, options, profile select, and very large A and B buttons. Along the back are a large amount of 3.5 inputs that you can map to the corresponding buttons of a traditional Xbox controller. From the face buttons, the triggers, bumpers, the analog sticks and even the clicking in of the analog sticks or a direction of the d-pad such as up and down, and left and right. On the side of the controller there are multiple USB inputs for joysticks and other devices. It even looks cool. It fits right in with the Xbox family with the white and black color scheme that would look sleek and stylish in any room.
I am sure many of us take the use of our limbs for granted. What if myself and other gamers couldn’t walk, use our hands, any of our limbs, or had other things that would either keep us, or make it very difficult for us to play games and much more. No longer are we using just a joystick and a button or two like in the Atari or Arcade. The controls have become much more complex. Now there are analog sticks, context-sensitive buttons, triggers, bumpers, menu, options, share, touch screens and so many other options that require our input, and most of them may require the gamer to press several of them quickly and within a second of each other.
The most impressive thing about the controller is just how many devices it supports. Think of it less as just a basic controller, and more as a hub that allows some amazing depth and customization to fit the gamers needs. Like the name suggests, it is extremely adaptable. It supports large buttons, mouth operated joysticks, and other input devices that allow gamers to press with their legs, use foot pedals, and so much more. The controller will cost $99 and will ship in the fall of this year, 2018. The accessories do not come with it, those are sold separately, but the controller supports many different companies products.
The other feature that can tie into the Adaptive Controller is Co-Pilot. This is a feature built into the Xbox operating system that allows two controllers to act as one. If someone is having trouble pressing buttons or is unable to, a second person with a second controller can do that for them. Co-Pilot is available now, and does not need the Adaptive Controller to work. You can use two standard Xbox controllers. This, combined with the Adaptive Controller, makes for an impressive ecosystem that welcomes everyone.
What Microsoft has done with it’s Adaptive Controller is shown that it’s being inclusive with it’s platform. What many of us have taken for granted, is a reality that many people with disabilities deal with every day. They have issues that they have to deal with that are much bigger than video games, but I am glad to see a corporation as big as Microsoft take the step to bring them an easier way to have fun, without all of the roadblocks they would have to face with a traditional controller. Game on my friends!