28 July 2020
Author: Rhiannon McGregor
For too long, brands have made assumptions about how gamers control game play; namely, with their hands and thumbs. Now, however, brands like Microsoft are recognising that the traditional controller design is not best suited to all gamers’ mobility needs. ‘The traditional Xbox controller makes a lot of assumptions. It assumes I have two hands to hold it, two thumbs to hit the analogue sticks and the fine motor control to get at all the buttons. That’s a barrier,’ says Bryce Johnson, senior inclusive designer at Microsoft.
The controller has been redesigned with features like larger buttons, which can be operated using hands, elbows or feet, as well as a row of 19 ports for users to add more devices such as touch-sensitive pads. Beyond simply redesigning hand-held controllers, there are opportunities for brands to completely re-imagine how games should be played. Haptic technology is one area where brands can implement a completely new gaming experience that foregoes the need for applied pressure – which can be difficult for people with limited movement – and is more about intuitive gestures that can be adapted to the players’ mobility needs.
The Bristol-based company Ultrahaptics has created a gesture control system that uses ultrasound to offer haptic feedback when a command is given. While the system has been created for in-car use to control audio and connected car applications, it is easy to imagine how this concept could be applied to gaming.