I have cerebral palsy. Its a minor case of CP, but the disorder makes the left side of my body function slower than the right side. This was something I learned the hard way. When my friends would learn how to play the piano and guitar growing up, I couldn’t because of finger positioning. Not being able to do everything my friends and family could do was upsetting, and it left me discouraged. Fortunately, I found solace in video games. I grew up with NES and owned every console up to the Xbox One X. Surprisingly, I didn’t find an issue using a controller, and I think my ability to play on consoles is great. Where I do have a problem playing is on PC. Because I need to use each of the fingers on my left hand when playing with a keyboard and mouse, PC gaming is often difficult, painful, and in some cases, impossible. Most of my friends play on PC, and it’s frustrating not to be able to join them. That’s why when Microsoft announced the adaptive controller for Xbox One and PC, a thought; “Finally, someone got it right.”
I’m fortunate enough to be able to play games with a controller, and not have an issue for the most part. I play Halo 5: Guardians, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege and Dark Souls on a regular basis and my hands rarely get tired. My cerebral palsy is an issue, but I try not to let it hinder my life. There are so many other people with my condition (with more severe cases) and other disabled gamers who, unfortunately, can’t participate in a hobby they love. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is the most inclusive piece of hardware that the console market has ever seen. What I adore most about the Xbox Adaptive Controller is that the company worked directly with those who have disabilities and mobility issues.
It was developed in partnership with organizations around the world, including The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged. We worked closely with them and directly with gamers who have limited mobility to assist in our development. Our goal was to make the device as adaptable as possible, so gamers can create a setup that works for them in a way that is plug-and-play, extensible, and affordable. In addition to working with common adaptive switches that gamers with limited mobility may already own, it has two large buttons built in. These buttons can also be reprogrammed to act as any of the standard controller’s button inputs via the Xbox Accessories app.
Microsoft is working hard to give all of its fans the opportunity to enjoy gaming, and this is something people should recognize. Inclusiveness will help propel the industry forward. While I use my Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4 every week, there are plenty of people who can’t because of how the controllers feel. Now that Microsoft is creating the Xbox Adaptive Controller, the company’s console should be more appealing to those who have limited mobility and are looking to get into video games. Not only is the Xbox Adaptive Controller inclusive, but it’s also more accessible and available for people at the reasonable price of $99.99.
For gamers with limited mobility, finding controller solutions to fit their individual needs has been challenging. The solutions that exist today are often expensive, hard to find, or require significant technical skill to create. A number of individuals and organizations are creating custom solutions, but it has been often difficult for them to scale when most rigs need to be so personalized.
Being excluded from a lot of video games growing up has been annoying. Because of my fingers, I could barely keep up with friends when they needed a drummer or keyboard player in Rock Band 3. Button mashing minigames in titles like Mario Party or that mission with The Flash in Injustice: Gods Among Us always led to failure. I’ll never forget being stuck on a section of Star Fox Adventures on Gamecube because of the way my hand works. I needed to call a friend over to clear that one section for me. It’s frustrating not to be able to do everything my peers can.
Since the reveal of the Xbox Adaptive Controller two nights ago, I haven’t stopped smiling while thinking about the device. This is a new era for disabled gamers. I’m thinking about those people who dreamed of playing video games but never had the opportunity to do so. My mind has also been on people who can play video games but struggled because some button prompts were painful and difficult to press. Microsoft has opened up a new world for a demographic that doesn’t usually get the spotlight in the gaming industry. Disabilities affect those who have them as well as the people around them. I think of parents of young children with cerebral palsy like myself, and how with the Xbox Adaptive Controller, they might be able to play a game together for the first time. I think about people who lost the ability to move later in life, and how they’ll be able to pick up the hobby once again. The Xbox Adaptive Controller is a huge step in the right direction for gamers with disabilities, but also, for the industry as a whole. Inclusiveness is important, and as someone who has been left out of sports and other physical activities my entire life, I’m so happy that there will be a new generation of gamers that won’t have to feel left out from playing video games thanks to Microsoft.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89