Opinion

Xbox Adaptive Controller: Accessible gaming featured in 2019 Super Bowl

Guest author - Humphrey Hanley (AKA NoHandsNZ)

The Super Bowl is known for its glitz, glamour, half-time show and eye-catching ads. This year, Microsoft took the time and space to highlight a passionate group of gamers.

Did you catch the most amazing moment in the history of gaming during the commercials at this year’s NFL Superbowl? No, not that part where we caught a glimpse of the legendary Ninja during the NFL 100 promotion. I’m talking about the moment where Microsoft spent more than $7M to tell the world that “Gaming is for Everyone”. They promoted their most innovative and inspiring gaming adaptation, (possibly ever): the Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC).

When companies could have been spending millions promoting the next AAA developer title coming out, Xbox has taken bold leaps. Their ad shouted out that gamers with disabilities are an often ignored, but are an incredibly passionate part of the community! And, less than a year ago all most people knew about accessibility in gaming was that colour-blind settings could be turned on or off in some games.

Watch the ad

Gaming equality

Gamers all know how amazing it feels to take control of your game and transport yourself into a different world. You know how to let the stress of work or school fade away while you play games for a little while with your friends. What many people don’t realise is that when you have a disability, gaming can be more than that. It takes you away from your pain. It takes you to a place where (often for the first time) you are equal. And, nobody is judging you for being different.

Sadly, many games then take that equality away by making aspects of the game inaccessible. Menus and subtitles are too small to read, colours blend, keys can’t be remapped. And. sometimes controllers simply can’t even be picked up or used. These are just a few of the problems faced every day by people with disabilities. They just want to have fun and play games.

About the Xbox Adaptive Controller

The team at Xbox have solved at least one of those problems for everyone who wants to game but can’t hold a controller, or hit all the buttons. The XAC is a simple piece of technology from the outside. The user takes the inputs of a range of adapted buttons, switches, joysticks and pedals, and directly plugs them into the XAC. Then you plug the XAC into an Xbox or PC, and it gets read like button presses from a standard Xbox controller.

This provides an easy, off the shelf solution, to let people who couldn’t otherwise play games with an Xbox controller, be a part of the gaming worlds that we all know and love. When combined with the Xbox Copilot feature, allowing two controllers to operate as one, this lets disabled gamers interact with as many of a games’ features as they can. And, a friend can help with the rest if needed.

A game changer

For gamers with disabilities, this is literally a game changer. To be accepted as part of the mainstream world of gamers… to see their controller on a shelf beside an Xbox Elite controller together with the latest fantastic gaming titles can mean the world to someone that just wants to be included. Especially the kind of fun everyone else has been having for years.

To have their story told to the world, in front of arguably the biggest prime-time TV audience of the year, and then shared online by celebrities, politicians, and the gamers and influencers we all know and love is one of the biggest gestures of inclusivity this disabled gamer has ever seen. Thank you, Xbox!

About Humphrey

Humphrey Hanley, aka NoHandsNZ, is a Twitch partner, motivational streamer and photographer. He’s a passionate advocate for making the world as accessible to everyone as possible. He can be found playing video games (you guessed it, without hands!) on . He has been conquering games since his first Amiga 500. Follow him on Twitter @nohandsnoexcuse.

Images: Microsoft / Xbox

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