The limitations of the traditional video game controller has often restricted their accessibility to gamers who don’t have full use of both arms. The reality is that many gamers are living with disabilities and are not able to fully enjoy games to the extent of their able bodied counterparts.
Where traditional manufacturers are decidedly lacking in their concerns for the overall accessibility of their controllers, I’m talking primarily Microsoft and Sony here, modders are picking up the slack and bringing new solutions to the table.
They are taking traditional controllers and adapting them for the needs of specific disabled gamers.
Most recently, one of the modders at the forefront of modding controllers for disabled gamers is none other than Ben Heck, a YouTube personality and celebrity modder.
Heck is well-known for taking popular controllers from console manufacturers and turning them into one-handed accessibility controllers that most disabled gamers can use. The ones he typically displays in his videos are for a right handed orientation.
He does, however, offer limited production runs of the controllers, in both left-handed and right-handed orientations, following the release of each of his YouTube videos where he shows viewers, step-by-step, how to create their own accessibility controllers.
In the following example, Heck takes an PS4 controller and modifies it so it is easily accessible for users with disabilities.
The PS4 controller is fully modded to be used with a single hand. To overcome many of the obstacles he faces with the PS4 controller, he splits PCB boards for the analogue sticks and uses fine soldering on components within the controller, utilising 3D printed parts to overcome many of the issues faced by disabled gamers.
The beauty of what Ben Heck is doing is that he is sharing both his knowledge and expertise with everyone through YouTube. Anyone can follow this instructions and create their own accessibility controllers.
Heck has also modded the Xbox One controller into an accessibility controller.
Interestingly, Ben Heck isn’t the only modder creating accessibility controllers. Other projects have begun to surface, one noteworthy cause in particular is The Controller Project.
This is a website which collects many different controller designs and modifications for a variety of different disabilities and applications.
The project is manned by Caleb Kraft, and in the video above you see him helping out a disabled child with muscular dystrophy which leads to the gradual lose of strength in the hand. Kraft creates a controller which allows the young gamer to easily and comfortably play his favourite game, Minecraft.
With the possibilities of modding controllers, it is plausible that nearly any modern controller can be modified into an accessibility controller for a disabled gamer.
If you take a look at The Controller Project website here, you will see how modders are helping make mods and enhancements for popular console controllers, and are sharing these ideas with the world.Forum discussion