Despite the fact that the gaming industry is still in its infancy compared to books and cinema, it is one of the largest industries in the world. With the breadth and depth of choice available, there is something for everyone.
However, the various controllers that come with video game consoles and computers are often rather awkward in shape. This can mean that they are hard to hold, especially if you have a disability. This has lead to a variety of video game companies working on new technology to help those with disabilities, whether it be allowing them to play games or even to make their lives easier in general!
So, in recognition of the hard work and investment that the video game industry has put into helping out and supporting those with disabilities, we want to feature some of the great controllers and technology that they have developed.
The Deus Ex Bionic Arm
The developers behind the Deus Ex series of video games, Square Enix, teamed up with three other companies to create the technology group known as Augmented Future. Together, they have created a host of prosthetic limbs for people. However, it all started with Tilly, an 11-year-old girl who was given a brand new arm.
The technology developed by this group of companies allows these prosthetic limbs to be 3D printed, making them quick and low-cost to produce. And it all started because of the ideas that Square Enix created in their games and wanted to bring to life.
Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller
The most recent product to appear in this article, the Adaptive Controller isn’t even out on the shelves yet. However, that doesn’t mean we’re not excited about it! Microsoft have taken the ideas behind various other Accessibility Controllers (as shown below), merged them and then developed them further.
Designed primarily as an Xbox One controller, it can be connected up to a myriad of different items, allowing you to have a controller that anyone can use. This means, no matter what your disability is, you will be able to enjoy all of the games that are available.
In an interview after the Adaptive Controller was announced, disabled gamer Vivek Gohil (who had tested it) stated that the controller made him feel free and able to enjoy the games he had grown up with once again.
Due to the adaptability of the controller, there is also the possibility that it can be used to connect to other devices as well. This, in turn, could make life much easier for people, given a stronger sense of independence.
One of the longest-running aspects of the gaming industry’s help for the disabled is the creation and development of accessible controller design. Rather than limit people to the base design that is shipped with the various consoles, companies within the industry have invested time and money into creating the perfect options for everyone.
From one-handed controllers that allow you to use every button combination, to controllers that split apart, meaning that you can sit comfortably in a wheelchair, accessibility is a very important focus for these companies.
As more and more businesses start to invest in accessibility as these companies do, technological advancement will only help the disabled even more!
Here are some great examples of accessible design in video game controllers through the years.
Built for the original PlayStation in the 1990s. The ASCII Grip took the otherwise rather odd shaped controller and made it suitable for use with just one hand!
All of the buttons that appeared on the original controller have been accommodated for. This shows that even in the mid-1990s when gaming was much smaller, companies were already investing in accessibility.
Designed for use with both the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, the HORI Separate was a brilliant advancement in accessibility technology. It allowed for a total of three different configurations in order to best suit the user, no matter what their disability was.
You were able to use it as a standard controller if you desired, albeit with a more comfortable design. On the other hand, you could use it as a one-handed controller or separate it into two pieces, so that you can use it easily and comfortably from a wheelchair.
eDimensional Access Controller
As technically moved on further, eDimensional created the Access Controller – this could be seen as the predecessor to Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller. Made to work with the PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, it was also wireless as well as adaptive.
The lack of wires meant that it wouldn’t get tangled up in any mobility aids that you had. On top of this, it features interchangeable “control pods” so that you can customise it to your needs.
Looking To The Future
Whilst the video games industry might not be for everyone, it is clear to see how much they are investing in helping make life easier for those with disabilities. From brand new technology when it comes to prosthetics, to creating customisable devices that help with accessibility, the technological advancements that are guided by the games industry are paving the way for a brighter, more independent future for everyone.
To find out how The Mobility Aids Centre can also help you boost your independence, why not check out our range of mobility aids, or give us a call on 01733 342242.