[games_access] Alternative Accessible Haptic Game Controller - thoughts

Barrie Ellis barrie.ellis at oneswitch.org.uk
Mon Nov 28 08:18:24 EST 2005

Hi Richard,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

Some problems with current accessible game controllers:

! A lack of standardised controller connection between different computers 
and consoles.
One controller may work really well for your PC, but there may be no simple 
way of getting the same controller to work on your games console.

! A lack of options enabling you to re-map controls, double up controls, 
simplify and even switch off controls.
Using a driving game as an example, I've found it helpful when assisting a 
person play a game using an adapted arcade stick to make all the buttons do 
the same thing (GO), and the joystick set to steer left and right, with up 
and down disconnected. If you don't have the finest control of your hand, or 
are learning disabled, simplifying the numerous buttons can help massively. 
With a left handed gamer it can help to simply invert the joystick. You 
can't do this with all accessible game controllers.

! Analogue controls.
These can require impossible levels of fine control, making a game 
impossible. If these can be set to act in a digital manner, be remappable, 
and have control over how hard they steer, this would be very helpful. There 
is some facility for this in my adapted X-Arcade controllers, but it could 
be better still.

! Sheer number of controls.
Some accessible controllers can be dauntingly complicated at first, which 
must put techno-phobes off. You need a really accessible design with really 
good easy to understand instructions.

! Functions not clear.
What the controller does at any given time can be confusing. E.g. In trying 
to make a universal switch interface controller, the X-Arcade has all 
buttons left blank, with a reference guide explaining what each button does. 
Overlays could help. I could see OLED 
(http://www.artlebedev.com/portfolio/optimus/) technology really helping 
here in the distant future.

! Lack of knowledge.
If the controllers can't be repeat produced easily, and aren't widely known 
about they won't get to the right people.


Carrying on from recent posts, I have had a number of gamers approach me 
with the wish for a single handed controller that enables them to do 
everything a Dual-Shock type controller can. I have a Neg-Con one handed 
controller and can vouch that this is not very comfortable at all to use. 
Creating a comfortable one handed controller would be a great project. It 
would be best if it had the facility to connect standard switches / sensors 
to enable different parts of the body to take on extra functions. This could 
also serve gamers using their feet.

It would be really nice if this project could be used with standard 
Playstation game pad connectors. These can be used with adapters to connect 
to most games consoles, making this a more universal controller.

Another project idea would be for a versatile joystick. Being able to gate 
the joystick (to make it 16- way, 8-way, 4-way, 2-way or 1-way), to be able 
to set a variable dead-zone in the middle (so varying how far you have to 
push in a certain direction to make the controller activate). Also being 
able to attach different stick handles would be great, including sticks with 
buttons on. If this device could have switch sockets too for the other 
controls, this would be great. It would also be good to have this device 
acting as four switches itself, so it can be connected to any standard 
switch interfaced equipment.

A further project idea would be to make an able-net 'Big-Red' type of switch 
with an OLED display, so it's function could be displayed at all times (an 
easy way would be to feature a cycling menu of images to choose from, such 
as all the Playstation symbols and controls, JUMP, RUN, FIRE etc. - with the 
facility to USB in more images). Perhaps this would be a way of giving a 
single switch more functions?

Hope this is useful,

Barrie Ellis

> I would like to know what problems/limitations/possibilities there are 
> with current accessible game controllers. Can you tell me if there's a 
> NEED for a specific design/technology through which games could be played 
> more easily? I personally like the idea of a "one button"-controller that 
> actually has more functionality than just "on" or "off". But I wouldn't 
> really know if there's a need for that. I know that there's a very wide 
> range of haptic assistive technology and alternative controllers. I also 
> know that the scope of motoric disabilities if quite big and varied. 
> Therefore I am thinking to just pick one or two of the most common motoric 
> disabilities and ask the students to design for that specific disability. 
> What do you think about that (and...er... what IS the most common motoric 
> disability *among gamers* ?)
> If anyone has some nice ideas/questions that could be researched within 
> this project, please step up :)

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