Accessible Video Game Controller

It’s been awhile since I’ve combed the Internet for video game accessibility information, so tonight I’ve been doing just that.

We’ve talked about the challenges many disabled people face when playing video games. I’ve mostly looked at it from the perspective of actual games.

Hardware is another issue. Think about how far controllers have come along in the past decades. Looking at just the systems I’ve owned — the Atari 2600 had one button and a joystick; the Nintendo Entertainment system had four buttons and a directional pad; the Sega Genesis, 5 buttons and a pad. Then came the PlayStations and Xboxes, which threw in trigger buttons, bumpers, more buttons, more thumbsticks…you get the picture.

Imagine the challenges people with physical disabilities face with such complex controllers.

I was just visiting the wonderful AbleGamers website (a site I talked about at length last year in a series of posts including an interview with Steve Spohn), and read some interesting news on the topic of accessible video game controllers.

The Adroit Switchblade with one of its included thumbsticksEvil Controllers and the AbleGamers Foundation jointly unveiled the Adroit Switchblade, a remarkable assistive technology device that allows massive amounts of customization for Xbox gaming or, with an additional plugin, the Playstation or PC. It comes with a pair of thumbsticks, plus you can use its 19 ports to set up a slew of switches to perform whatever actions you need.

Being new to the subject, I was still a little bit unsure of how this all worked. Joystiq posted a video of AbleGamers’ Marc Bartlet explaining the Switchblade. It’s a little hard to hear the audio at times, but it’s worth a viewing.

It’s always great when there are accessibility strides in the world of video games. Hopefully the Switchblade makes it easier for more disabled people to enjoy the world of gaming.

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