Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Controller Company teams with Video Gamer With MS To Make Video Games More Accessible

Steve Spohn has from muscular dystrophy. He is also an avid gamer. With a bag of rice, some duct tape and Xbox 360 controller parts, he is working with a video game accessory company to keep himself in the game.

Arizona-based Evil Controllers specializes in modding video game controllers to make them accessible to gamers that have special needs. Steve's prototype X-box controller is modular. That means that every input component, from the buttons to the directional pads to the thumb-sticks can be positioned and repositioned however the user needs. They also have created a set of buttons that employ the use of mobility Steve has by rigging another pair of buttons that are activated when he shrugs his shoulders.

The controller in the video below is a prototype of a model Evil Controller hopes to produce and mass market.

Accessibility in video games is something that I think both game developers-- and more importantly, console manufacturers-- sorely need to improve upon.

The big thing in gaming from Nintendo's WiiMotion, Sony's Playstation Move and Microsoft's Project natal are all about encouraging people to control a video game by getting up and moving around. While it is an exciting and immersive development, it's not very inclusive to the disabled community.

You'd figure that increasing the user base for video game would be a good thing! Larger audience means more money, right? While I understand the economic realities of making and manufacturing different peripherals might incur extra espense, there are some things that seem like a no-brainer to me. Like closed captioning in all games with speech. A mode for colorblind players (I have seen this in PopCap Games' Peggle series and wondered why more companies don't do this). And... more I probably can't think of.

What about you, members of the gamer and disability community? What would you like to see?

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