Microsoft partners with Muscular Dystrophy UK to address accessible gaming

Published Date
Alexa Follen

Microsoft, the global technology giant, has announced the Xbox Adaptive Controller designed for gamers with limited mobility.

The news is welcomed by Muscular Dystrophy UK who is working in partnership with the company to promote the new controller.

At the same time, the charity is calling on the wider gaming industry to take the needs of those with a disability more seriously. It has today (17 May) published a report, Changing the game, identifying key issues affecting disabled gamers and setting out a number of recommendations for urgent action.

Microsoft’s new Xbox Adaptive Controller is a welcome first step towards a more inclusive video gaming culture. It will make a real difference, particularly to people with a progressive muscle-wasting condition. However, our report highlights that there is still much more the industry needs to do.

“We frequently hear from young people with muscle-wasting conditions that gaming is hugely important to them, providing opportunities to socialise and compete with others at an equal level. It can help reduce social isolation, relieve stress and improve mood, but many feel excluded because of their disability.”

Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

The ‘Changing the game’ report was compiled by Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers, a UK-wide network of young, disabled campaigners. More than 100 people with a muscle-wasting condition were interviewed about the issues they face when it comes to gaming.

Key findings showed:

  • Almost three in five people surveyed said gaming was their favourite or regular pastime due to limited access to other leisure activities
  • Eight out of ten believe the gaming industry doesn’t consider the needs of disabled gamers
  • Around one in four respondents require extra technology to help them play video games
  • More than one in three people said they could not play video games because of their disability

The report calls for a number of changes to be introduced, including the development of controllers that can be adapted to different levels of disability.

Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller has been designed primarily to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility. It will be available to purchase later this year in the Microsoft Store.

Commenting on the controller, Hector Minto from Microsoft, said: “Nobody knows what gamers with limited mobility need more than the gamers themselves, and that’s why it’s so important for us at Microsoft to partner with charities like Muscular Dystrophy UK and their Trailblazer Programme. We need feedback, and a strong relationship, which help us create the tools that make gaming accessible to everybody. Accessibility in gaming is a real focus for us; while the Xbox Adaptive Controller is the first physical accessibility-focussed gaming input device from Microsoft, it’s not the first accessibility product in the gaming portfolio. Last year we introduced Copilot, an Xbox One feature compatible with the Xbox Adaptive Controller.”

Lauren West, who manages the Trailblazers network for Muscular Dystrophy UK, added: “What we want to do now is challenge Microsoft and the wider industry to continue focusing on the needs of disabled gamers and create a much more positive and inclusive gaming environment for everyone.”

Find out more about Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazer network and how to join.

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