Last week, the gaming industry received news that Microsoft had been working on a new controller. Unlike all previous controllers, this one was something quite different. No, there wasn’t just a rubber grip on the back of a standard Xbox controller; nor was there a new clicking mechanism in the buttons. Instead, Microsoft have taken the first steps as a big distributor of video game hardware to open the market up. They introduced their Adaptive Controller, which was met with huge fanfare! Finally, a huge console manufacturer has started to cater for those with disabilities – But that isn’t the true limit of this hardwares capabilities.
Gamers are a weird bunch – One minute, they’re jumping all over the latest craze game and the next, well, there’s Nintendo Labo (Which looks like great fun!) The industry has seen its fair share of good and bad peripherals, so how are we supposed to react to news of a hugely customisable controller?
Well, we should greet it with open arms, as it’ll open gaming up for more groups of people, as well as give gamers creative new tools to use with their games.
So SpecialEffect, a charity we’ve mentioned on numerous occasions previously, had a massive part in this. It wasn’t a surprise either, as when the announcement of the new controller came to light last week, this was the only company I could think of doing something similar. SpecialEffect, for the unaware, is a charity that looks to ‘promote fun and inclusion in the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to play video games.‘ In simple terms then, they look to provide people with various disabilities the tools they need to be able to rehabilitate, or (perhaps even more importantly) just the tools to let them play games and enjoy themselves.
To some, this may seem like a bit of an odd idea – Why is there a charity dedicated to allowing disabled people to play video games? What benefit will there be for them to play video games? Ultimately, it’s SpecialEffect’s belief that everyone should have access to the fun that video games can provide. But, just because their main focus is on giving people access to video games, doesn’t mean that’s all they do. SpecialEffect have been around for quite some time, so they’ve got a few other cool devices up their sleeves.
But let’s focus on what the Microsoft Adaptive Controller can do for the video games industry – The most obvious is that of bringing more disabled gamers back into the game (sorry for the pun). By bringing disabled gamers back in, you’re opening games back up to be more inclusive. By doing this, you may slowly improve the gaming scene as a whole, but that’s another whole different can of worms that the industry should think about.
Next, the less obvious thing this controller brings, is versatility in gaming for non-disabled gamers. At the moment, you pick up a pad you like, purely because you like it. Now, imagine if someone were to get the correct bits to attach to their Microsoft Adaptive Controller – And they played a fighting game with it? Perhaps it’ll offer a new, innovative way to play a shooter? Or, perhaps, it’ll provide some unique, interesting setups to create, not necessarily a new genre of game, but a whole new subset of a game genre? It’s all definitely within the realms of possibility.
The final point this brings is it opens the discussion to other big manufacturers, such as Nintendo and Sony. It brings the discussion to them; directly stating “We’ve made this pledge, but will you do it too?” You can make a safe assumption that both companies would look to capitalise on this, so would it bring about some truly incredible new tools, or will it just be a lazy cash-spinning endeavour by the other companies?
I’m a bit of a critic when it comes to Microsoft; but this is something I feel they got completely right. They saw a niche market they could monopolise, they did so, but they’re also going to be doing a lot of good with this. I certainly want to get my hands on one of these, just to see what versatility you can get out of games – and more importantly, just how intuitive gaming is with one? But, all this remains to be seen, as we only have a release date of Summer 2018. At least that’s not too far away, right?
Now let’s keep the discussion going – Are you excited for the release of the Adaptive Controller, or do you think it’s just monetising something that shouldn’t be monetised? What do you make of the design? Do you like the idea of a controller you can completely customise for your needs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter – And hey, if you are disabled, do you foresee yourself using one of these?
*For more information, check out SpecialEffect’s post on the controller.