It doesn’t look like a standard Xbox One controller, but it’s not supposed to. And it’s not the Duke, no matter how much goodwill that old dinner plate-looking thing has. It’s a big thing that some gamers won’t know what to do with but for some other gamers, Microsoft’s new Xbox controller is something they’ve been waiting years, if not decades, to play games with. Microsoft recently unveiled the new Adaptive Controller, a customizable controller platform designed for people who can’t use the regular Xbox One controller for whatever reason. It’s not the first controller designed with accessibility in mind — Microsoft’s partner in the project, AbleGamers, has been working on these problems for years — but it’s a massive effort from one of the biggest names in gaming.
At Microsoft, we believe in empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Our CEO, Satya Nadella, has spoken about how essential it is that we push the boundaries of what technology can do in a concerted effort to be inclusive of everyone around the world. These principles have the deepest impact in how we are building products that are designed for everyone. We have been on a journey of inclusive design, which celebrates and draws inspiration from people who are often overlooked in the typical design process.
For gamers with limited mobility, finding controller solutions to fit their individual needs has been challenging. The solutions that exist today are often expensive, hard to find, or require significant technical skill to create. A number of individuals and organizations are creating custom solutions, but it has been often difficult for them to scale when most rigs need to be so personalized.
Spencer also shared a more in-depth look at the development process from Microsoft Story Labs, which tracks the creation of the new controller from its genesis in 2014 through to production.
Adaptive is the key word here. The Adaptive Controller isn’t designed with a single setup in mind, because the abilities of those unable to use a standard controller might look completely different from person to person. The Adaptive controller is really more a platform than a single product, and it comes with a range of ports designed for third-party peripherals like a one-handed joystick or a setup that allows people to play with their feet.
The controller itself will be available later this year for $99.99.
Accessibility in gaming is something that many gamers won’t necessarily interact with directly, but it’s an important part of how this industry will continue to grow and evolve. You see it in big things, like the controller, or in features you might not notice otherwise like colorblind modes or directional indicators that can let deaf players know what’s happening without sound cues. The Adaptive Controller is a big step forward for all sorts of players.
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