Q: My son is 11 and a power wheelchair user he has limited use of his hands, we use talk to text, Siri, Google Home, and others but love some of these technologies and want to explore more. What type of video games do you think are best for somebody with limited use of hands?
A: The Microsoft adaptive controller was developed to be used initially with the Xbox, but I think it can be used with any type of console or PC at this point. It was a controller designed to help people with motor disabilities, primarily, to be able to video game. When you think of the standard video game console, you think of a standard controller. There’s a greater range of motion, movement dexterity, and strength needed to hold a standard controller and to play video games, so the adaptive controller came in, as a means to allow switch devices, joysticks, whatever configuration of buttons and tools for kids and adults to be able to play on an equal level.
Now that's the hardware piece. The software piece is the game itself. How accessible is the game? This is something that is continuously growing, the gaming industry is very cutting edge, and they are also very receptive to their user needs. I've been finding that a lot of games recently are incorporating more accessibility in a variety of different ways. Accessibility of games can range from genre to genre, as some genres are going to be quite difficult to make accessible. For others, accessibility comes down to difficulty. Now, the joy of playing a video game is often in in surmounting challenges or socializing with siblings or friends, a game like super smash brothers has a range of difficulties that can really configure to any type of user. The game makes of a game called “The Last of Us” put a lot of thought into how they can make the experience accessible to people with mobile and visual disabilities. There is an organization called Able Gamers who publish White Papers, listings, rankings, and reviews for different video games in terms of their accessibility. They also offer awards to manufacturers for achievements in accessible gaming.