Video games are a hobby enjoyed by millions of people from all walks of life. There is a game for everyone, but not everyone who wants to pursue a hobby can.
People with disabilities that affect their vision, mobility, or any other ability required in order to play video games as intended should not pass up an opportunity to have fun.
For gamers dealing with a disability, there are various options to help bridge the gap and bring them back into the game. Each person’s disability is unique, but by combining several broad approaches, you can find a unique solution for each situation.
A regular gamepad is brilliant engineering and design. So much so that we often see them being used for other purposes. Unfortunately, they also require a lot of coordination and dexterity, not to mention two hands with five fingers each!
The good news is that you can create your own gamepad solution using an adaptive gamepad. The only commercial option at the time of writing is the Microsoft Xbox One Adaptive Controller. Basically, it’s a hub that can connect to a myriad of devices that replace every button, trigger, and control on a stock Xbox controller.
There are many examples of settings on the Internet that allow players with missing limbs and limited mobility to use every part of their body as a potential source of input. Best of all, it is compatible with any Xbox One game, and therefore any Windows game that supports a standard controller!
Alternative Input Options
As the Xbox Adaptive Controller already demonstrates, there are many physical control options. We only need to think a little outside the box to see a myriad of ways to tell a video game what to do.
For example, let’s say you don’t have one hand, so playing a first person shooter with your keyboard and mouse will be difficult. What you can do is control the mouse with your working hand and use the foot pedals to take over the WASD functions.
It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s like learning to drive a car. After a while, your individual control scheme will become second nature to you. There are people who beat Dark Souls with the Dance Revolution rug. Circling with pedals is nothing compared to that.
The list goes on and it covers almost every part of the body. Voice control macros are fairly easy to set up with the right software. You can also get eye tracking equipment these days for surprisingly little money. The trick is to focus on those parts of the body that are still working well and then look for any control system designed to control that part of the body. Seriously, there is even a Kickstarter for what is essentially a controller.
Many developers are beginning to realize that they need to take players with disabilities into account when creating their games. For example, many games now have a color blind setting. You can also change the user interface of the game, for example, by changing the size of the text or the position of the user interface elements.
While we may not think of them as such, there are other settings that are common to most games that can also act as some sort of accessibility setting. The first thing that comes to mind is the game’s difficulty slider.
A lower difficulty setting can be a way to adapt the game for players with limited reaction times or mobility. There is no such thing as a “correct” difficulty setting. Just a fun but challenging level, not frustrating and frustrating.
The responsiveness and customizable button mapping are also powerful ways to adapt the game, even when using only a mouse and keyboard. Try to look at the settings that are provided in a particular game in terms of accessibility, and you may find that some of them can be rethought to make the gameplay easier in different ways.
3D Printing and Community Edits
It’s good that adaptive gamepads are all the rage now, but fearless modders have long been changing existing hardware to accommodate players with disabilities.
You can find any number of tutorials on YouTube and modding sites where buttons move or remap on standard controllers. The wide availability of 3D printing equipment means you can also download structural modification plans and print your own version.
There are also modding forums where you can ask for help in situations where there doesn’t seem to be an existing solution for a particular problem. There is always a fearless master on the net who is smart enough to solve your unique challenges. The first step is to identify the problem.
A great example is this simple one-handed Switch controller mod, a 3D-printed object that allows players to control the console with one hand. The original creator wanted to help a friend, but ended up helping anyone with only one hand and would like to play something like Breath of the Wild.
Choose smart games
While this may not be the most popular option, some players with disabilities may need to explore the game genres that best suit their personal circumstances. For example, turn-based RPGs can have a fantastic storyline, great graphics, and deep gameplay.
They just don’t rely on the reflexes of fate to be played. On the other hand, if you are having trouble reading text due to a condition such as dyslexia, avoiding text-heavy RPGs may be your best bet.
Of course, every gamer has a different taste for the game genre and mechanics. So don’t take this as advice to give up games you really want to play. Rather, it is one of the title search strategies that will provide the most entertainment and fun with the least frustration.
Everyone is welcome
Games should not be a hobby for the able-bodied only. The most important thing is to know that there are always options for gamers who are faced with unique challenges that most of us don’t have to face. If you believe there is a solution, chances are you will find it.