When X-Box’s original controller was released in 2001, a going joke was that the controller was simply not fit for the average person’s hands, let alone the teenage crowd that most typifies gamers. Users would joke that they would need not only both hands,but maybe a foot or two, in order to reach all buttons on the excessively large device. Even the co-creator declared in a 2016 interview that Microsoft ignored focus tests on the embarrassingly massive prototype, simply going with what the selected vendor could offer.
Years later, the simple utilitarian principle that a game controller should be designed for what is best for the majority seems archaic. Decries that the majority of people, in this case normal, able-bodied, and “average,” should always have a controller shaped around their own proportions while leaving all others to make do, seems misguided.
With X-Box’s new adaptive controller, showcased in a recent YouTube video video by Ars Technica and scheduled for release later this year for 99.99, the company head is poised to reconsider controller design. Debuting the working model of their new adaptive controller, a large tablet sized rectangle featuring two large programmable buttons, a d-pad, and a host of 3.5mm inputs on a back panel so one can insert any number of adaptable technology devices ranging from old x-box devices like the Rock-band footpad, to facially activated buttons, X-Box seems to have rewritten the historical idea of what we all consider a “normal” controller.
Executive President of Gaming Phil Spencer is poised to provide improved accessibility. When he met an online companion for the first time, and discovered that he had been in a wheelchair, he was inspired. As his friend in online battle had told him, playing videogames with people on the internet, with avatars that are not subject to the physical ailments our biological bodies suffer, is the truest expression of who he really is. This such notion made Spencer consider why not having controllers adapt to people, not the other way around.