Over the years, technological developments have been made to allow more people with disabilities to customise their gaming experience to their individual needs.
In this article, we will give a brief overview on what adaptive gaming equipment is used for, and how various people use it to optimise their gaming experiences.
What is adaptive equipment?
In gaming, adaptive equipment is various pieces of kit that allow anyone to play games. There are several different types of equipment that can be purchased or custom-made, mainly because each person with a disability will have a different needs from the equipment.
The most well known piece of adaptive equipment is the Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC), which is a flat gaming pad with two large buttons, and nineteen 3.5mm jack ports to attach various pieces of equipment.
Each of the ports on the back of the pad represents a different button or function on a typical gaming controller, and allows the user to attach things like buttons and joysticks.
Logitech also produces an adaptive gaming kit that has a variety of light-touch buttons and trigger controls to allow for full customisation, in the same way as the Xbox controller.
Although some of this equipment is on the pricey side, charities like Special Effect work to create bespoke adaptive technologies completely tailored to the needs of the individual gamer.
Previously, they have made an eye-tracking software that allowed an individual to play games just by using their eye movements – as well as incorporating the adaptive equipment into wheelchairs.
It is worth noting that not all people with disabilities use adaptive equipment to play games.
As mentioned before, it’s a very personal thing to each individual, and setups can be customised to exactly what each person needs. Take disabled streamer Tucker ‘FragsByTheFoot’ Griggs as an example, he has a condition where his arms and elbows are locked into a 90-degree position, as well as his legs being locked straight.
Even though Tucker uses a wheelchair to mobilise, that’s really the only equipment he uses. When it comes to gaming, he uses a standard keyboard and mouse with his feet, as this is what works best for him.
Who is adaptive equipment for?
Contrary to popular belief, adaptive equipment is actually something that anyone of any ability can use. The aim of the equipment is to provide ease of opportunity for the user to play games, so anyone who feels they could use it is able to!
As mentioned before, not all people with disabilities use these pieces of equipment, but that does not take away from the fact they might consider themself a ‘disabled gamer’.
Earlier this year at the 2021 Student Champs Grand Finals event, we had British Esports admin Nathan ‘SirSquark’ Badger try out adaptive equipment in a FIFA showmatch. Nathan swapped places with Dan, a student from National Star College, who has Cerebral Palsy and relies on adaptive equipment to play games like FIFA.
As someone who has never used adaptive equipment before, Nathan actually found it easier to play once he had gotten the hang of it – showing that just giving it a go can be really beneficial to anyone.
So, in essence, anyone can use this equipment to play. Ability levels vary from person to person, but it is always worth giving it a go to see what is best for you and your comfort whilst gaming.
Why do people use adaptive equipment?
The main purpose of these pieces of equipment is to provide a level playing field for anyone to be able to play games. It doesn’t matter if you have just one or nineteen adaptations to your gaming setup, any way that this equipment can benefit you is the most crucial element.
We spoke with Gran Turismo player Yhazzir about his experiences with adaptive equipment in esports.
Yhazzir has a right arm amputation, so plays games with one arm and uses the Xbox Adaptive Controller and Logitech adaptive kit to make the perfect setup for him.
He said: “ has affected my gaming experience heavily, as I cannot play the way I used to. Adaptive equipment allows me to compete against able-bodied players, and this means a lot to me. However, I would like to see more accessibility and inclusion in esports, maybe with a para-league type event.”
“I feel as though disabled people in esports are underrepresented and not considered. It has changed, but it’s still not at the same level as able-bodied players. Xbox and other companies have made great innovations within the industry,” he added.
Each adaptive equipment setup is unique, and provides opportunity for the user to be involved in gaming where they may have not been able to before. It levels the playing field and opens up doors to opportunities that may have been closed off to people previously.