For months, Microsoft has been hinting on the release of Xbox controllers that were designed to make video games accessible for the disabled. The model was introduced just recently and we are yet to hear from the disabled community how this has affected their gaming experiences.
There is great room for development in the gaming industry in terms of accessibility.
Nevertheless, this has not stopped people of all ages from enjoying video games, and most have found their own ways to penetrate the walls of inaccessibility, into the gaming world – a space which means a lot to them.
A Sense of Belonging
In contrast to the physical, constricting world, video games provide a channel where they can be “freed” from disability. Within a game, people are able to perform similar functions as characters or players. Gamers’ avatars become a new body for them in some way, and they help them feel equal with others.
Things to Look Out for in Developing Accessible Gaming Systems
Microsoft’s release of their Adaptive controller is a milestone for the gaming industry. It has contributed to increasing awareness about the experience of gaming for the disabled. There are still things to look out and consider though, before we consider that gaming has reached a point of revolution with respect to disabled gamers.
Financial Feasibility – Adaptive controllers and alternate gaming systems might in fact cost more than traditional or normal gaming systems. We should drive toward creating accessible systems that do not have to cost extra.
Proprietorship – Custom/Adaptive controllers might be difficult to connect to other consoles since gaming systems are “closed” (i.e., accessories and systems of one console are not necessarily usable in another console system).
Legislation – At present, no legislation in the United States is requiring the accessibility of video games for the disabled. This pushes the creativity of some developers to offer accessible content that has more features compared to their competitors’ software. In case legislation is agreed upon in the future, it is necessary to make sure that the drive for constant development and creativity is not hampered or regulated.
The number of disabled gamers around the world is on the rise. Video games have been considered a “life saver” for people with disability. The development of accessible gaming systems is tantamount to touching and improving lives in a more humanistic perspective.