01 February 2019

Adaptive technology

This Ars Technica video provides some context:

Oversized buttons, finger switches, blowing tubes, foot pedals, and other specialized inputs have long been built for gamers who can't hold onto or efficiently use average controllers (gamepads, keyboards, mice). Recent speeches from company heads like CEO Satya Nadella and Xbox chief Phil Spencer have paid lip service to "inclusivity" in computing and gaming, but this device, the XAC, aims to do the trick by connecting niche add-ons to standard Microsoft hardware.

After exploring the ways hospitals, charity groups, and non-profit organizations already help limited-mobility gamers enjoy the hobby (and pay for unwieldy, specialized gear), in 2015 Microsoft's Xbox research group started an initiative to build an Xbox-branded hub that can bring down costs and frustration for users and caretakers alike. One year later, this skunkworks project received funding and a pathway to become an official Microsoft retail product...

Strange online hack attempts, like fans cutting Xbox One controllers in half just to spread buttons out to more easily reachable places, also suggested that more needed to be done for these players.

Hunter was also frank about the difficulty of getting members of Microsoft's business team to get on board. "We got the question: how many [units will sell]?" Hunter says. "We were like, we don’t know! And we won't know until we ship. The traditional business success metrics... this doesn’t fit into any of those normal metrics. We had to move the goalpost. The [return on investment] is different. This is about allowing more people to play."
Way more at Ars Technica.


  1. I don't think MS can win by associating its product with a feeding tube. This is what games-as-a-service have become already - a subscription based preoccupation delivery. A way to continuously keep depressed, anxious, apathetic kids and young adults hooked. No joke, games have literally become the purpose in life for like a tenth of young males 13-25.

    It is kind of a clever move and a backdoor to public support. If crippling game addiction steals time and ambition from kids, we should just go to kids who are already handicapped, this way nobody will notice.

    If everybody plays, nobody wins but Microsoft.

    The most important thing to understand that staying at hope playing games in a kind of vegetative state is not integration and not inclusion, it's isolation and fake-integration/and fake acceptance. Its also virtual home care, that may not be as cheap as you think. Is virtual social interaction better than no interaction at all, probably, but it's still not real, unlike MS is asserting.

    The real nefarious thing is that most big budget games today basically allow infinite spending on things like infinite progression, in-game gambling and in game vanity. They basically prey on the uneducated and mentally handicapped already. Imagine having to explain to you disabled child, why they can't spend as much as all the other cool kids in game.

    1. Thank you. You just saved me ten minutes of keyboard time. I could not agree more. Marketing, marketing, marketing....

  2. There are benefits to gaming.


  3. Wow, Anonymous, I couldn't disagree more. While there are certainly people addicted to games, I'd hardly say it was the norm. And there are benefits -- my son (now 33) struggled to learn to type (AKA keyboard) using Mavis Beacon and other programs but, after playing online games, he, out of necessity, soon was typing far faster than me (and I'm no slouch.) He also learned strategy, leadership skills, and analytical thinking that helped him in his military and government work. (AKA, helping to keep our country safer.)

    My daughter was playing educational games from toddlerhood; one, on PBSkids, showed us that she was able to determine which of three one-syllable words was being said, by clicking on the right square -- before she could even talk.

    And I've played computer games for a good three decades now (not counting Pong and the primitive console games of the 70s) and I think they're invaluable for not only enjoyment but keeping my brain stretched and challenged. From Skyrim to Dragon Age to Two Point Hospital to word games of all types, I think the hours spent on those games are as fulfilling and valuable as any other use of my time.

    I do agree that some games (mostly on the phone) are set up to separate fools from their money with tricks and incremental purchases -- but it's our responsibility to learn, and teach our kids, how those tricks are designed and how to not be fooled.

    But, back to the point of the article and the adaptive technology -- I have severe arthritis in my left hand, which has meant my having to say goodbye to games I loved (Skyrim, Dragon Age, and even Stardew Valley) that use that hand extensively. If there are ways to make games accessible to those of us with just one workable hand, I really don't see the down side.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...