Physical disability: games & controllers

There are several games that can be played by people with a physical disability. These can be categorized as

1) games not specifically designed to be accessible (mainstream video games) and

2) games specifically designed to be accessible (one switch games).

Accessible Xbox controller with additional options by
Accessible Xbox controller. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Mainstream Video Games
Many mainstream video games are more or less accessible for gamers with a physical disability, usually using special hardware. The most advanced hardware interfaces are mouth-controllers and head- or eye-trackers. Besides these controllers, alternative switch interfaces are used, which enable larger buttons or (custom) grouped buttons. Two good starting points for buying alternative game controllers and Quadstick.

One Switch Games
For gamers with a severe physical disability the number of controls might be limited to just one or two buttons. There are games specifically designed to be played with just one button. These games are often referred to as “one-switch”-games or “single-switch”-games. Many early arcade games actually used only a few buttons but as games grew more complex, the number of controls increased (a good example is this article on the evolution of the Nintendo controller). For instance, the Playstation 2 controller consists of 15 buttons and two analog sticks. Unfortunately there are no guidelines for designing game accessibility for physically disabled gamers.

Remappable button configuration
One way to make games more accessible is to give gamers the option to remap their controls. One-handed gamers for example will be able to reconfigurate the buttons to their liking, putting the buttons more used closer than others.

Start gaming

Check out this article about a one-armed gamer.


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