Microsoft is always moving forward in the field of accessibility, especially in gaming, where its Xbox Adaptive Controller and other features help gamers with disabilities play however is comfortable for them. A couple new updates and a touching short video on how games fit into the rehabilitation process mark the company’s accessibility highlight month.
One update many gamers will appreciate is the ability to remap buttons on the Xbox Elite 2 controller or the XAC to pretty much any keyboard key. There are lots of games that work best, or only, with keyboard and mouse, like strategy and simulation titles. Having a simple, Windows-native remapping process maximizes compatibility and hopefully removes the need to rely on third party software that could add cost or complexity.
This feature was teased over the summer and should be available to all “in the coming months.”
Some new stuff is coming to the community and some much-played games as well: the store now lets you search by any accessibility feature, like narrated menus, difficulty and game speed adjustment, or the ability to pause (not pictured: Elden Ring).
It’s the kind of accessibility feature that’s useful outside of how such a thing is usually defined — these are settings that simply make games better for everyone.
There are a few more new options detailed in the blog post.
Most interesting to me was the short they put together with Craig Hospital in Colorado, which specializes in treatment of brain and spinal cord injuries. Increasingly when a person suffers such an injury, games are one of the hobbies that are affected — but one that is more readily remedied with accessibility options.
In the video, several patients recovering from and adapting to injuries talk about the importance of gaming to their social life and mental health, and how it’s refreshing to have playing them be considered a crucial part of their well-being.