Sometimes a piece of hardware comes along that changes everything. Nintendo’s Wiimote controller popularized motion controls for the masses after its debut in 2005 and the Oculus Rift showed the world that VR was viable in the spring of 2016. While not as likely to end up in the hands of everyone like the Wiimote, Microsoft’s new Xbox Adaptive Controller is every bit as important to the world of video games as any piece of hardware that has come before it. It opens up gaming to an underserved market and offers near unlimited promise. For this, we award the Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller Best Hardware of 2018.
On its surface, the Xbox Adaptive Controller simply looks like an oversized white gamepad. While its shape is somewhat reminiscent of the Nintendo Entertainment System controllers, the Xbox Adaptive Controller is housing nearly endless functionality. The face of the controller is dominated by its two large, circular buttons. These buttons are much easier to use for gamers with limited mobility. The finger and hand dexterity required to use conventional controllers is not a possibility for a large number of people and the Xbox Adaptive Controller can make button input as trivial for limited-mobility users as it is for everyone else.
On the back side of the controller is where the real magic happens. There are ten 3.5mm input jacks that can be individually mapped in games and applications so that all core functionality of the regular Xbox One Controller is available to Adaptive Controller users. The 3.5mm inputs have been a loose industry standard for limited accessibility controls and switches for a long time now. For gamers who already have a variety of sticks, paddles, and foot-operated toggles, the 3.5mm inputs allow full compatibility with already existing input devices.
Microsoft’s marketing for the controller has also been great. A standout example is a release window video that the Xbox Team prepared that stars Austin Texas-based comedian Zach Anner. Anner has cerebral palsy, which has prevented him from playing video games throughout his life. He is paired up with his best friend Josh Flanagan and the Adaptive controller for a few rounds of Killer Instinct on the Xbox One. Josh explains how his 30+ years of video game experience will likely lead to his victory over Zach, who has roughly one day of experience. The video captures the joy of friends enjoying a video game together. The two continuously trash talk and belittle each other as any focus on the controller fades away and you simply have a great moment shared between friends.
The design and implementation of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, as well as its brilliant marketing campaign show that the Xbox team truly cares about the product and those who use it. Gaming can now be a possibility for all, including all the wonderful ups and downs that make it the greatest hobby on earth.
Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Shacknews Best Hardware of 2018 - Xbox Adaptive Controller