Xbox Adaptive Controller first look: A new, necessary gamepad

Xbox Adaptive Controller first look: A new, necessary gamepad

Microsoft stumbled into the accessibility market about three years ago, with the launch of the Xbox One Elite controller. The Elite wasn’t designed to help people with disabilities play video games — in fact, it was built for hardcore players who wanted more mapping options by adding rear paddle buttons, more sensitive triggers and interchangeable analog sticks to the classic dual-grip Xbox gamepad.

It just so happened these features were also in high demand at organizations like AbleGamers, whose goal is to make gaming accessible to anyone with disabilities via education, community support and the creation of custom controllers.


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Around this time, Xbox’s inclusive lead for product research and accessibility, Bryce Johnson, reached out to AbleGamers with a proposal. Johnson and a small team of developers had just submitted a prototype of an accessibility-focused controller to the annual Xbox hackathon, and they wanted feedback on the design.

“We started jumping onto multiple calls with Microsoft employees and Xbox hardware developers and talking about this controller,” AbleGamers COO Steven Spohn said. “Bryce had been working with us on the Elite and wanted to bring in our input for this new controller. It was to be a device much like our own Adroit — a standard Xbox controller that could use switches, only this new project could be everything we ever wanted to do better and more.”

That was two and a half years ago. Today, Microsoft revealed the Xbox Adaptive Controller, the latest and most disparate evolution of its gamepad line.

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AbleGamers, Warfighter Engaged, SpecialEffect, Craig Hospital and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, the Xbox accessibility team designed the Adaptive Controller with a new type of player in mind. The Elite may have been a step in the right direction in terms of inclusion, but it still relied on a handful of assumptions, like the fact that players had two hands and complete control of their fine motor functions.” data-reactid=”46″>Taking input from <a href=”” rel=”nofollow noopener” target=”blank”>AbleGam

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