The Adaptive Controller features a pair of large programmable buttons and a host of ports to connect virtually any Joystick, buttons, switches or other controllers to help those with disabilities play games. (Image credit: Xbox)
This is a great idea. It's definitely a "why didn't I think of this" kind of design.
Microsoft recently announced their Xbox Adaptive Controller: a gamepad that lets disabled users play games through special configurations. This is not the first foray into specialized controllers designed for disabled players, companies such as AbleGamers, Warfighter Engaged, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and a host of others have been doing so for several years. In fact, Microsoft reached out to all of those companies for input on the Adaptive Controller’s design, and it looks like they succeeded.
The Adaptive Controller has an astounding number of jacks and ports for just about every conceivable add-on device, along with its own programmable buttons. (Image credit: Xbox)
The Adaptive Controller functions just like its title- it has two massive programmable light-touch buttons on its face, along with a D-pad, Xbox, View, Menu and profile buttons. Beyond those, the Controller acts as a hub of sorts with 19X 3.5mm input jacks and several USB ports that allow users to connect everything from thumb-sticks to customized triggers and mounts designed for players with different disabilities.
Microsoft touts the Controller as- “The most flexible adaptive controller made by a major gaming company, the device can be used to play Xbox One and Windows 10 PC games and supports Xbox Wireless Controller features such as button remapping.” Gamers can create up to three player button profiles for different games and switch between them without the need to reset the device while switching between them.
For some, the Controller represents more than just a gaming device- it provides inclusion for those who were never able to game with others because of their disabilities. Imagine being the guy or girl that could only watch their friends play games because they lacked the hardware or had difficulties trying to use standard controllers. Microsoft’s Controller makes it easy to customize the device to the user’s needs, which will open up new worlds for those who couldn’t play before.
Each 3.5mm jack on the back acts as a button on an Xbox controller, so any device can be mapped instantly when plugged in without the need for even pausing the game. (Image credit: Xbox)
The most exciting feature on the controller is those nineteen 3.5mm jacks on the back of the device. They mimic the number of inputs on the standard Xbox controller and whatever device- be it clickers, breath-enabled switches or other accessibility tools, is plugged into them, they are automatically mapped for that particular button.
The shape of the device has also been designed with accessibility in mind, as the board is large enough to fit into the player’s laps without falling through, and the jacks are arrayed in a single line with varied indicators on top so players or their caregivers can quickly switch them out without difficulty. Better yet, players don’t even have to pause their games while doing so as it uses Microsoft’s Inclusive Design features, which offers remapping capabilities and a Co-pilot option where a pair of players can control one character on screen.
The Adaptive Controller isn’t an all-in-one device for every game on the market, as some games will not allow access to remapping features while in-game and older titles are just not equipped to handle the inputs. That being said, the Adaptive Controller will unboundedly open up new worlds and possibilities for disabled players, who deserve to play with the rest of us. Microsoft states the Controller will hit the market sometime this year and will cost $100.
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