Accessible Gaming with the Xbox Adaptive Controller

Posted by Stephen Petrey on Saturday, May 19, 2018

Microsoft has really stepped their game up. It’s clear that Microsoft has really struggled with an identity problem. Are they a software company? Are they a hardware company? What’s their core focus? 

Amidst the chaotic soul-searching, Microsoft has continued to outdo themselves in the gaming arena.

The Xbox, an undefeatable goliath has seemingly persistent success in the community. But, accessibility has always been a sore spot, not just with the Xbox but as a whole, the gaming community has largely left out users who have disabilities. While accessibility standards continue to expand for web users across all platforms, the gaming community has taken a large homebrew approach. Users have built their own joysticks, buttons, and switches — all built upon the 3.5mm audio jack.

3.5mm inputs on the back of the Xbox Adaptive Controller

Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is a seriously awesome solution for disabled gamers. Some might say it was designed to be hacked. I love it. Some core features:

  • 25 hours of battery life
  • 2 USB inputs
  • Bluetooth capable
  • The controller is mountable
  • 19 (3.5mm) inputs, each one mapped to a specific button
  • Works with existing homebrew controllers, or Microsoft’s own suite of inclusive interface inputs

This is a huge win for Microsoft. Xbox has existed at the intersection of casual gamers and PC purists — but the console has consistently left out the disabled. While the PC hasn’t suffered the same problem, the Xbox was heading down a dark road.

Microsoft thankfully (through the power of feedback and community) has listened to their users.

The Adaptive Controller is exactly what Microsoft and the Xbox needs. Microsoft has always excelled at delivering products at the beck-and-call of what their users need or want. From Windows 95 to Halo 2—I’m pleased to see a product that solves a problem for so many. It’s pleasing to see Microsoft’s core focus has shifted from listening to business customers, to hearing out all their customers.


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