Microsoft Xbox is the first major console brand of this generation to have its own proprietary adaptive controller for gamers with limited upper body function.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller has two huge buttons and the ability to plug in up to 19 adapted buttons or directional peripherals so gamers can customize a setup that best suits their function and the game they’re playing. It also has mapping options that can configure button position to anywhere a player needs and co-piloting capabilities that allow two controllers to play as one.
“If one person only has function on their left hand, they can control the left side of the controller and another person can use all the buttons on the right side. It’s called co-piloting because you can control the character, but if you need assistance, your co-pilot can take control immediately,” says Mike Luckett, a C6 quad and gamer. He tested and provided feedback on the XAC thanks to his involvement with Warfighter Engaged, a nonprofit that provides free adapted and custom-made controllers and peripherals to injured veterans and others with disabilities.
With limited mobility in his hands, Luckett lays both a standard Xbox controller and the XAC on a lap desk, using the standard controller for the directional joysticks and the adaptive controller for the easier-to-hit larger buttons. “If I wanted to, I could just use the adaptive controller for everything, I’d just have to attach more buttons to it. But I find having both makes everything a little more compact for me,” he says.
The creation of the XAC began in 2015 when Matt Hite, a Microsoft employee and member of WarFighter Engaged brought some WarFighters to Microsoft’s annual One Week Hackathon. They worked with Microsoft on the adaptive controller project in consultation with other organizations like AbleGamers, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital and SpecialEffect.
“The idea behind the XAC is that you can add extra buttons that are easier for those with limited mobility to use without having to open up the controller and solder it into the primary control board,” says Ken Jones, the mechanical engineer who founded WarFighter Engaged. “That doesn’t always work, but it’s basically what I was doing the hard way for these injured vets before I got hooked up with Microsoft.”
The XAC is available for pre-order in the U.S. at Xbox.com, Microsoft Store Online and any Microsoft Store retail location with shipping expected in September 2018. It’s retailing for $99 and Microsoft is also offering a range of peripherals — joysticks, buttons and mounts — available for sale through its website.