Gaming

Gaming for Everyone: 7 Accessible Gaming Devices

Creative firms and individuals open new doors in gaming for people with disabilities so everyone can enjoy games in sometimes unexpected and delightful ways.
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Gaming for Everyone: 7 Accessible Gaming Devices

Imagine you love video games, but you can’t play them easily because your body works differently than others. Maybe you are deaf, have partial sight, limited mobility, or perhaps quadriplegia. But there is no prerequisite for joy, no physical requirements to have fun. The main thing standing in your way is the interface—or the design of the game itself.

So gaming can be a challenge: In general, modern video game control schemes have become increasingly complex each console generation, with a myriad of functions, buttons, triggers, touch pads, and analog sticks all crammed into a small handheld gamepad. Games themselves have also become difficult to manipulate even for the non-disabled among us.

Answering this need is a group of creative firms and individuals that together are opening new doors in gaming for people with disabilities. Using devices like the ones you’ll see ahead, gamers of all abilities can enjoy modern video games in sometimes unexpected and delightful ways. With the technology available to us today, there’s no reason why we can’t all share the love of this creative medium.

For more resources related to accessible gaming solutions, I recommend checking out OneSwitch and the Ablegamers Charity.

  • Blue Tip Gaming Axis 4 Pro

    1 Blue Tip Gaming Axis 4 Pro

    Ohio-based Blue Tip Gaming manufactures and sells a diverse range of accessible joysticks (the Axis line) designed for disabled or mobility-limited gamers. Large arcade-style buttons and analog sticks allow users with limited fine motor control or nerve damage to play modern video games previously inaccessible due to complex modern controllers. Blue Tip also sells a bite switch for mouth use with an industry-standard 3.5mm plug.

  • 2 Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller

    Microsoft recently made waves with this Super Bowl ad for its new Xbox Adaptive Controller, a breakout box of sorts that allows users to plug in special switches and joysticks of any kind via an array of 3.5mm and USB jacks on the back and side of the unit. Each jack corresponds with a button press or direction, so there are endless possibilities for how each function can be triggered.

  • SUBPAC M2X

    3 SubPac M2X

    Fascinating solutions exist for deaf gamers looking to experience the full depth of video games. For example, the SubPac M2X, seen here, is a wearable vest that translates game audio into tactile thumps and vibrations so they can be physically felt. Enough detail is transmitted that talented gamers can reportedly even play musical rhythm games with the device.

  • Pretorian Technologies Optima Joystick

    4 Pretorian Technologies Optima Joystick

    For those with nerve damage or limited motor control, the physical dexterity required to operate a gamepad or small thumbstick can be overwhelming. That’s where larger joysticks such as the Pretorian Technologies Optima (seen here) come in. They can be configured with various sensitivities to motion and operated with broad movements of a hand or arm instead of pressure on the fingertips. In particular, the Optima can be used with devices like the Xbox Adaptive Controller for control of modern video games.

  • Tobii Pro Glasses 2 and Nano

    5 Tobii Pro Glasses 2 and Nano

    In recent years, eye-tracking technology has opened up new opportunities for game control among both non-disabled and disabled gamers. Devices such as the Tobii Pro Glasses 2 and Nano watch eye movements to determine where the gamer is looking on the screen. This control can be used as a pointer similar to a mouse, or used to select on-screen buttons or options.

  • Ben Heck's One-Handed Xbox One Controller

    6 Ben Heck's One-Handed Xbox One Controller

    Hardware hacker extraordinaire Ben Heck has a long history of creating accessible gaming devices. In this case, he’s modified an official Xbox One controller so it only requires one hand to use. From time to time, Heck sells these mods on his site, and he is often working on new accessibility solutions for modern consoles and PCs. For more information, check out this page on Heck’s website.

  • QuadStick FPS Game Controller

    7 QuadStick FPS Game Controller

    Minnesota-based QuadStick has created a brilliant control device for quadriplegics that combines a mouth-actuated joystick with sip and puff switches, allowing users to play complex games on modern systems like Switch, Xbox One, and PS4. Several models and specialized mounting arms are available.

    It’s an exciting time for gaming accessibility, with creative new devices being introduced every year. Video games truly are for everyone.

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