At AbleGamers, our Peer Counselors sometimes encounter barriers to play that cannot be addressed by current commercially available products or engineering solutions. Sometimes, this is because current technology is too inflexible or expensive for us to enable play. In other cases, the technology simply does not exist to address the needs of our players, meaning they miss out on the experience of playing with new friends and family.
The AbleGamers Engineering Research program prototypes and creates new controllers and devices, offering unique customized solutions for our players.
How we do it:
When we have a solution to build for players, the AbleGamers
Center for Inclusive Play in Kearneysville, WV has a state-of-the-art maker space that includes 3D printers, laser, and electronics manufacturing facilities on site. We combine custom-built components with commercial products to create robust, individualized solutions that help get players past the initial barriers to play and into the game.
In cases where a set of barriers requires the construction of customized or specialist controllers such as Quadstick or other adaptive controllers, we collaborate with great organizations such as Evil Controllers, Hori, and independent engineers working in their garages to build and procure these specialized controllers.
However, sometimes our Peer Counselors encounter barriers to play that current technology and options cannot meet. In these cases, we work with industry partners, makers, and research institutions to innovate new technology that can solve these barriers for a wide range of people.
AbleGamers’ Technology Innovation:
AbleGamers No Pull No Lift Controller
Our Peer Counselors have worked with many players over the years where the amount of movement and strength required to reach buttons or move control sticks on a standard controller makes play nearly impossible. This is a particularly challenging problem that results in either high-cost solutions, with multiple expensive assistive technologies interacting with one another to provide access or computationally costly solutions like eye or movement tracking.
With the goal of trying to provide a multi-switch option in one inexpensive device, AbleGamers was honored to be selected to work with a Senior Clinic Project team in the Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering at the University of Prince Edward Island. This team of talented engineers worked closely with the AbleGamers team to translate our players’ needs into a specification of a brand new device that provides access to 8 different switches in the space of a little under an inch. Working in conjunction with a platform like the Xbox Adaptive Controller, the No Lift No Pull Controller (patent pending) provides an up to 6 times cost reduction in equipment and access to play through one device.
Project Team:Graham Ching (UPEI:FSDE), Muhanad Hilaneh (UPEI:FSDE), (UPEI:FSDE), Ordia Unuigboje (UPEI:FSDE), Mark Barlet (AbleGamers), Christopher Power (AbleGamers Canada, UPEI SMCS)
Xbox Adaptive Controller
Throughout 2016-2018 we collaborated with Microsoft Xbox to create the Xbox Adaptive Controller. This device went through several iterations. We were very fortunate to be able to provide the Xbox team with the experience and knowledge of our experiences with players as well the successes and challenges of our own Adroit Controller we created with Evil Controllers.
In 2018, the XAC launched with great reviews from our players, and we were lucky to have a new industry-endorsed and supported platform on which to build solutions and get more people in the game.
AbleGamers Adaptive Play Surface
When our Peer Counselors and partner therapists design technology solutions for players, it often is comprised of a variety of switches, joysticks, and devices. Our players described to us how the setup and takedown of these devices often involve untangling wires, connecting and disconnecting components, and finding places to store their devices, which can cost players valuable playtime.
A team of young engineers and their supervisors at the University of Prince Edward Island created the AbleGamers Adaptive Play Surface, a control surface with built-in wire management. Players, their caregivers, and therapists can load up the surface with components and then feed wires underneath so they stay secure and organized. When done gaming, the surface can be stored on a shelf or in the closet as one unit, ready to be used for the next play session with minimal time for setup and maximum time for play.
Participants: Matthew Hutchinson, (UPEI:FSDE) Riley Fitzpatrick (UPEI:FSDE), Dr. Elizabeth Osgood (UPEI:FSDE), Dr. Christopher Power (AbleGamers Canada, UPEI:SMCS)
After the release of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, our advocacy efforts in combination with strong voices in the gaming community raised the profile of the cost of assistive technology in order to supply switches and other controls.
In 2019, the AbleGamers team was requested to provide our experience in providing a wide range of solutions for players to the team at Logitech. We were so excited to provide our depth of knowledge regarding the types of controls, their features, and their cost to the team.
The release of the Logitech Adaptive Play Kit represents a further step-change in the industry in providing low-cost effective hardware to enable play that we were proud to support.
- Jan 2021 – AbleGamers was granted its first patent. Patent Number 10,898,794 – GAMING SUPPORT ASSEMBLY AND CONTROLLER HOLSTER.
- Mar 2021 – AbleGamers was granted its second patent. Patent Number D914,009 – FLUSH MOUNTED GAME CONTROLLER HOLSTER