A big deal
Microsoft takes a giant leap toward inclusivity with the Xbox Adaptive Controller
Many of us take for granted how easy it is to experience and enjoy one of the world’s most popular pastimes, yet for many of the estimated one billion people who live with various disabilities, playing games can be either an arduous task or completely unachievable without the help of specialist equipment. For years various charities have worked hard to develop and supply this unique equipment but due to limited funding, the people that require them have to contend with high costs and potentially long waiting lists.
It’s for this reason that the announcement of the Xbox Adaptive Controller from Microsoft is so important. Born from Microsoft’s Inclusive Tech Lab and developed in collaboration with The AbleGamers Charity, SpecialEffect, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital and Warfighter Engaged, the XAC has been designed primarily for gamers with limited mobility. In developing this new controller Microsoft has removed many of the barriers that people with different levels of ability face and set a precedent for others to follow suit and make gaming more accessible to players everywhere.
Not only will this new accessory cost far less than similar devices, coming in at $99 (the UK price has yet to be announced), but thanks to Microsoft having worked closely with third party manufacturers it will support most external inputs available on the market.
Much like a standard controller, the XAC is wireless and has the traditional D-pad, View, Menu and Guide buttons, but it also sports two large, easy-topress buttons on the front, two USB ports on either side of the unit and 19 3.5mm input jacks on the back. These ports function as any of the buttons on a standard controller and are where you’ll attach the various assistive aids you may already own such as Quadsticks (a mouth-operated joystick that works by blowing air into or sucking air from it to perform actions), switches and buttons. Thankfully, every one of these buttons and ports can be reprogrammed via the Xbox Accessory app so you can create a set-up that caters to your specific needs. You can also save three different gaming profiles which can be seamlessly switched between to play a variety of different game types without having to reset the device. To top things off it has an internal lithium-ion battery so there’s no need to keep swapping out batteries.
Another welcome addition is the inclusion of the co-pilot feature that Microsoft introduced last year, which allows a second controller to be used in conjunction with another to add further options for people who can’t comfortably use a single controller. For example, one player can control the shooting in a FPS while another controls the character’s movements, or one person can use both controllers using other body parts.
There is still a long way to go and a lot needs to be done for gaming to be more inclusive, but all of this is certainly a step in the right direction.
“The accessory will support most external inputs available on the market”
Above Players with different levels of ability were involved throughout development. right A small selection of accessories and assistive aids on offer.