Adaptive Controller – Initial thoughts

About two weeks ago I received my new Microsoft Adaptive Controller for my birthday and I am pleased to say that it is a very good product so far. I have only played one game with it as of yet but it really has improved my gameplay experience. The controller is compatible with pc games so I fired up Star Wars Battlefront 2 to see how my setup would work, and it was great.

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Using the Adaptive controller alongside my mouse and headset gave me extra buttons to press allowing me to speed up my responses to enemies in game. I normally use right-click on my mouse to move forward, so to aim I connected a clicker into the left trigger input on the controller which gave me an easier way to do so, quicker than using voice controls and saying ‘aim’ into the microphone. You might not think it much difference but it definitely helped me zoom in faster. I was also using another clicker for right trigger as well in my left hand which produced a similar result, faster shooting resulting in more points.

adaptive controller 2

At first it was slightly confusing for me to get to grips with using so many different inputs at once (voice control, mouse clicks and controller buttons) but after 3 games I was adjusted to the additions and surprisingly was scoring more points and kills. Being more competitive definitely feels more fun as normally I’m can be just a little slower in reacting.

I am going to enjoy testing it further and pushing my limits on different games too. I am unsure if it will be compatible with all of my pc games but I imagine any game where you can use a controller will work. Adding more buttons and arranging them in good positions is my next challenge, but so far so good. Overall, I think it is a good addition to a gaming setup and hopefully more companies follow the lead in giving disabled gamers greater access to games.

Adapted Controller

There are now many types of controller and methods of adapting controllers to help disabled gamers. I have a Mad Catz Xbox controller which I bought a few years ago after I had a home visit from the charity Special Effect. Afterwards, we concluded that it was a good option because you could swap the analogue sticks around to different locations and it was compatible with pc as well. In addition to the controller, I have two micro-switches attached to be able to use the trigger buttons which work using various pieces of software like cronusmax. Micro-switches and buttons are very useful for improving your gaming experience as they can be placed within easy reach so give you a more comfortable button layout. With Duchenne, it becomes too difficult to properly hold a controller, so anywhere a button can be adjusted or replaced with something easier to press makes your response quicker and your game better. How the controller is positioned is also a factor in adaptations. I use a clamp and a flexible arm to attach the controller to my wheelchair in a comfortable and easy to reach place just in front of my hands. Below is a picture of me set up with the controller.

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Furthermore, I am looking forward to trying out the new adaptive controller from Microsoft to see how useful it could be. It definitely looks like it has great potential to make gaming easier by creating a sort of hub for all the different controller inputs like buttons and triggers. It is good to see disabled gamers being considered and catered to more and more with new technology by companies and developers. There are now many emulators, button mappers and controller types to choose from to help disabled gamers, which is a very positive thing. Without these options, I would not be able to enjoy many of the games I love, and by providing these methods, game developers are improving the inclusiveness of gaming.

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VoiceAttack software

Where has this been all my life? I recently stumbled across this piece of software while looking for a new mouse. I went onto a website and saw someone using VoiceAttack to help them play some games, so I thought I’d give it a go myself. I would definitely recommend buying it as it is easy to use, requires very little training, and cost less than £10. VoiceAttack allows you to use voice and other actions to input commands. Using a microphone, for example, you can create a voice command to press a button or perform an action in game. I have used other similar software before for my console but not to play pc games, and VoiceAttack is a really great way to enhance your gaming experience. So far I have only played one game (Star Wars Battlefront 2) with VoiceAttack enabled, but it made it so much more fun. Rather than just using mouse clicks to move and fire, which is my normal method, I can use powerups, crouch and jump just by saying ‘jump’ or ‘aim’ for example. You can also create a number of profiles, which can be tailored for each game you play and changed very easily.

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Gaming

Gaming is something that I very much enjoy doing, both on pc and console. A lot of games are not the most user friendly for people with Duchenne given the lack of strength in our arms and hands, but increasingly disabled gamers are being considered by developers. There are now lots of other ways to improve your experience, such as with micro switches, adapted controllers, and voice commands, a number of which I have only just learned about. In this section I want to talk about games I like and the various methods to improve gaming experiences for disabled people.