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Accessible Gaming with the Xbox Adaptive Controller

At Microsoft, they believe in empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Their CEO, Satya Nadella, has spoken about how essential it is that we push the boundaries of what technology can do in a concerted effort to be inclusive of everyone around the world. These principles have the deepest impact in how Microsoft are building products that are designed for everyone. They have been on a journey of inclusive design, which celebrates and draws inspiration from people who are often overlooked in the typical design process.

As Phil Spencer discussed at the annual DICE conference in February, when they truly design for all, Microsoft help make the world more equal. That’s why they are so excited about today’s Microsoft Story Labs feature which shares an in-depth look at their newest piece of hardware which they believe will enable and empower even more Xbox One and Windows 10 gamers across the globe: The Xbox Adaptive Controller.

 Xbox Adaptive Controller Inline 1

 

By taking an inclusive design approach and considerations of gamers; who might not be able to reach all the bumpers and triggers; or hold a controller for an extended period of time. For example, Microsoft were able to design a controller that provides a way for more fans to enjoy gaming. On their journey of inclusive design; they have taken a wider view of their fans and a more inclusive approach to designing for them.

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.

Joining the Xbox family of controllers and devices, the Xbox Adaptive Controller was created to address these challenges and remove barriers to gaming by being adaptable to more gamers’ needs.  It was developed in partnership with organizations around the world, including The AbleGamers CharityThe Cerebral Palsy FoundationCraig HospitalSpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged. Microsoft worked closely with them and directly with gamers who have limited mobility to assist in our development.  Thier 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.

 Xbox Adaptive Controller Inline 2

To make the Xbox Adaptive Controller a viable solution for the widest possible range of gamers with limited mobility. They’ve worked closely with third-party manufacturers to support external inputs which can be plugged in to the new controller.  These inputs include PDP’s One-Handed Joystick for the Xbox Adaptive Controller, Logitech’s Extreme 3D Pro Joystick, and Quadstick’s Game Controller. We couldn’t be prouder to have their support in introducing the Xbox Adaptive Controller. More recommended partner devices can be found here.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller has been years in the making. Though they realize that this is only one step along our journey of inclusive design; and that they have more work ahead. This has been a passion project for people around the world, both inside Microsoft and beyond. Microsoft are thrilled to introduce it to the world today; tell the story behind it. Take what they have learned on their journey to inform future initiatives in inclusive design. Make sure you check out today’s feature on Microsoft Story Labs and hear directly from Microsoft Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie in her blog today to commemorate Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

At $99.99 USD and available exclusively through Microsoft Store, the Xbox Adaptive Controller will offer significant value over the customized alternatives that exist today. They’re looking forward to sharing more about the Xbox Adaptive Controller in a few weeks at E3. The Xbox Adaptive Controller will be launching later this year, and they’ll share more information soon about pre-order availability.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out Ability Week at Microsoft Store locations starting Tuesday, May 29, through Saturday, June 2, a five-day experience of events that showcases hearing, vision, mobility, and cognitive assistive technologies that empower people with accessibility needs.

 

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Derek 'Dez' Maggs

Board Game & Tech Reviewer / Podcast Host of Rapid Reviews on the Boomer Radio Network / Assistant Producer of Creaytors Series on YouTube / Coffee & Hug Addict

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