[games_access] Another personal experience with accessibility issues

Reid Kimball rkimball at gmail.com
Fri Nov 25 13:05:56 EST 2005


I read this just now and thought I'd share:

SUMMARY: Make programmable hardware controls for games
URL: http://www.shacknews.com/ja.zz?id=11153068

"Having only one good hand for gaming is getting increasingly on my
nerves. (this is mostly from the 360 controller frustrating me) Damage
to one hand is the number one disability in the US. Mostly from an
accident on the job or stroke. Mine was from a stroke suffered shortly
after birth during an operation to work on my defective heart. The
percentage in adult males is 15%. This is a selfish point of view, but
I think targeting a male population that is unable to game to remove
barriers to gaming is more immediantly profitable than say chasing
after females with micropayment shopping concepts.

I don't need a special controller game game persay. I don't think that
any standard console controller was made with one hand in mind. (and
trust me, in the 30+ years I've been gaming I have just about every
game system ever made). The question is accessability with the
standard controller. Up until the invention of the N64 controller and
the psx dual shock, pretty much any controller was 100% usable with
one hand.

There has been one controller made with one hand use in mind. The
ASCII RPG controller. I have it. In fact I had a coworker who visited
japan to pick one up and send it back when it wasn't available in the
US. To be honest, it sucked. You had to remove your thumb from the
directional pad to hit most of the buttons, thus killing its usability
for most games. Since it was only usable in turn based games because
of that limitation, it wasn't an improvement over what the standard
controller could provide. Plus, it wasn't comfortable for long gaming
sessions.

One thing I use to do was rip apart a controller and try to mod it to
be more one hand friendly. That isn't really possible for the xbox and
the 360. It isn't like in the old days where you could cut the cord
and rearange the cable to have different buttions have different
functions. You would have to take the motherboard of the controller
and manufacture something around it. I had several attempts for the
ps2 dual shock done but they were rarely usuable end products. I've
had some offers to do something for the 360 and maybe something can be
done.

As I've said before; I don't think that a special controller is even
really required. Though making available for purchase a nonstandard
controller that duplicated buttion function on the front and back
would probably be benifical to both abled and disabled gamers alike.
There are a few things that could be done with little effort or cost
that could improve things dramaticaly.

Make the controller completely programmable. For the 360, I imagine a
dash board add on would be the best option for the 360. I don't mean
just a few control schemes to pick from because often, they suck. If I
want to make the x buttion take the L2 function, let me chose that. I
don't care if I lose the ability to have an analog function, if I
can't reach L2, its ability to do analog means nothing to me. Its much
easier for me to cope with having to tap X for finer control that to
get to an analog button that means I'll lose the ability to control my
character. There was a controller for the Xbox that allowed amazing
control programmablity. It was the ThrustMaster Firestorm. You could
even program the analog sticks with button functions if you wanted to.
It had a habit of braking, it was larger than the original xbox
controller, and thrustmaser dropped it from their line up fairly
quickly.

The default use of analog sticks generally annoy me to no end. I can
really only control one at a time. If game companies really want me to
use the triggers to fire, here is my suggetion: Make it so I can set
the left analog stick to be (forward - back - turn right - turn left).
I know how important straffing is but really, I can work around it. I
played dozens if not hundreds of PC fps and third person shooters
without hardly ever strafing

Another useful feature would be to adjust the sensitivity of the
controller. Some have limited use of a hand but lack some fine motor
controls. They find that often the game with do something they didn't
want because they accident fit a buttion of nudged an analog stick
slightly when they were trying to use another fuction. Or on the other
side, they might have problems with gross motor controls so having the
sensitivty jacked up would allow them to perform functions that might
just be out of their range.

I doubt much of that will happen since with the push to reach the
perceived main stream, companies often feel they have to exclude
niches and remove accessability in their products."

He said he's willing to provide more information to us if we'd like. I
think he'd be a good example for our book.

-Reid


More information about the games_access mailing list