As we were heading out of the building at Play NYC and calling it a day, a table by the exit caught our eye. A box for an “Xbox Adaptive Controller” was set up so we made our way over to it to see what it was all about and were pleasantly surprised.
On a small monitor, Rocket League was set up with a large and interesting looking controller placed on the table in front of it. Greg from the AbleGamers Charity walked us through the story and, more importantly, purpose behind this controller. His goal was to create a video game controller that made gaming more accessible to people with physical disabilities. Traditional controllers just don’t work for everyone, so he wanted to find a way to nullify that truth. With this in mind he constructed the Adaptive Controller and Microsoft took an interest in it.
The idea is that the Xbox Adaptive Controller can be completely customized, with ports in the back correlating to the different buttons on the Xbox controller. You can attach all sorts of different devices such as large buttons or a one handed joystick that’s very similar to the Nintendo Wii’s nunchuk.
I played Rocket League with a combination of this one handed joystick and two large buttons that acted as the accelerator and brake. Meanwhile, Greg was telling us about his test runs with his product, using foot pedals as the triggers in fps shooters like Battlefield. The options they have for “buttons” and triggering devices are big, with the intention of catering to as many people as possible. Some buttons are really big, therefore helpful to people with limited mobility. Others are tiny and require but a light touch to activate.
There’s even an option to press a single button on the Adaptive Controller to switch between control set ups. Have one set up for Forza and a different one for Fortnite? No problem! You can cycle through your different saved control schemes to make setting everything up that much easier.
What personally impressed me was how the attention to detail and the idea of inclusivity went all the way down into how the box for the Adaptive Controller is designed. In order to open it you need to pull a small loop of fabric that looks like the loops found on the backs of sneakers. You can do it with one hand or with your teeth if necessary with no difficulty.
The Microsoft Adaptive Controller is set to launch in September and looks like it will truly be revolutionary for those with physical disabilities. The AbleGamers Charity and Microsoft should be commended for their commitment to making gaming as accessible as possible.