Xbox Unveils New Adaptive Controller

Bringing games to those with limited mobility.

This week, Microsoft celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness Day by revealing the fruits of their years-long work on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, an Xbox Wireless Controller for gamers who have limited mobility or are unable to use both hands that is “affordable, easy-to-set-up, and readily available,” to say nothing of the “first of its kind.”

Forged with user research through new partnerships (including The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, SpecialEffect, Warfighter Engaged, Craig Hospital, and many community members) that aim to make gaming more accessible, this new controller benefits gamers with limited mobility who may experience difficulty gaming with traditional controllers.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller is just one example of Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility and Inclusive Design and Microsoft’s mission statement to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

This isn’t the first time a platform holder has created a specialized controller to increase accessibility; Nintendo created the Hands Free Controller for the Nintendo Entertainment System back in the 80’s, which allowed players to activate controls through use of their tongue for the Dpad and blowing or sucking air through a tube to activate the A and B buttons.

However, Nintendo did not market the device commercially, as you would have to order one through their Consumer Service line for around $120 USD (about $241.50, adjusted for inflation), or $170 ($342.13 adjusted) if you wanted the console included as well. As such, it’s become a bit of a rare item, and fetches quite a bit on the aftermarket these days, perhaps making it more expensive than accessible.

As controllers have become more complex over the years, however, there hasn’t been as much of a race among platform holders to keep up with making them accessible to those with limited mobility — or at the very least, they haven’t been as outgoing to the public about it as Microsoft has been with this newest effort. The company has worked with a number of organizations to make the Adaptive Controller a reality, including The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller will be available at the Microsoft Store for a price of $99.99 USD when it launches later this year, and more details are slated to be shared at the 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3, if you prefer), with pre-order details soon to come as well. In the meantime, Microsoft Store locations will be celebrating Ability Week from Tuesday, May 29th through Saturday, June 2nd, though there is no mention as to whether the Adaptive Controller will be available to check out there.

For more about Microsoft’s work in accessibility, you can check out the Official Microsoft Blog from Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, while more details about the Xbox Adaptive Controller announcement can be found here and on the Xbox Wire blog.

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David Oxford

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