Do Not Buy Next-Gen Consoles
To kick off the recommended holiday shopping guide for disabled gamers, we wanted to start off by stating a very disappointing, but expected result. The next generation consoles, PS4 and Xbox One, are not ready for the disability community.
While many of our peripheral partners are working diligently to create new assistive technology specifically designed for the next generation of console play, the majority of devices are simply not yet ready. Coupled with limited game selection making avoiding lower accessibility games difficult, we cannot recommend the new systems be under the tree for our community.
What to Buy:
Evil Controllers – If you’re still looking for a customizable Xbox 360 controller, or you’re planning on getting the Xbox One despite our warnings, Evil Controllers can make your experience a lot more enjoyable with custom controllers. By moving the buttons to the area of the controller that’s most accessible to you, a custom controller can alleviate the need for more expensive assistive technology.
For those with muscular dystrophy, these custom controllers can be a real game changer, allowing more time with the console before considering other options such as an Adroit or moving on to PC gaming.
Adroit – Speaking of Evil Controllers, the Adroit for the Xbox 360 is still available. If you’re in need of an Xbox 360 controller that can be turned into a switch operated device, the Adroit is what you’re looking for. Purchase any switches from any of your favorite online disability retailers and plug them into the Adroit to operate the Xbox the way you want it to be.
Customization doesn’t get any better than that.
StinkyBoard – Did you ever think to yourself how you still have some abilities in your lower extremities and wish there was some way to take advantage of that? If you’re like most gamers with a disability, your feet or legs still have some movement and strength, so why not take advantage of that with a piece of assistive technology for your feet?
The StinkyBoard is a foot pedal like device that allows you to tap or move your foot to press a single or combination of the buttons. This is a complementary device that will take your gaming to the next level by giving you easy access to yet another set of switches.
TrackIR – This device continues to be a manual favorite. By sliding a small device on to the top of your computer and a three point infrared indicator onto your favorite baseball cap, the computer can read which way your head is facing and allow you to have extra buttons pressed without any keyboard or mouse interaction.
If you have even slight head movement, TrackIR can give you the ability to press up to an additional 24 keys. In your game of choice, head tracking devices could be the difference between inaccessibility and enjoying the game.
Jamboxx – Gamers and musicians are a lot alike. We both just want to get down with some friends and enjoy some good times. Jamboxx is a new harmonica-like device that attaches to your computer. Its original inception was to be an instrument to help quadriplegics play music by using their mouth.
After contacting AbleGamers, the makers of Jamboxx are creating a brand-new version of the device specifically tailored for gamers. If you have the ability to play harmonica, you can make music or play games. Simply buy this device and plug it into your computer and watch your life be transformed into a video game symphony.
FIFA 14 (Xbox/PC) – Last year’s mainstream accessible game of the year is back with its next-generation. FIFA 14 brings all the accessibility of last year’s title with updated graphics and a smoother UI. EA stuck with their choices for a more inclusive game with this fabulous soccer title as opposed to their decisions with the Forza series, which have only gone backwards since 3.
If you’re looking for a sports game that’s highly accessible, includes multiplayer and scales based on your abilities, this might be the game for you.
Proteus (PC) – Elizabeth Martian described Proteus as one of the most accessible games she’s ever reviewed for us. With an extremely high accessibility score, Proteus is more of a wonderful experience through changing background music and immersive experiences than your run-of-the-mill game.
If you’re looking for something different that will entertain you for hours no matter what your disability, give Proteus a try.
Final Fantasy XIV (PC MMO) – Many of this year’s most highly anticipated titles turned out to be accessibility duds. But FF14 turned out to be just accessible enough to satisfy most game accessibility needs.
According to AbleGamers’ Joseph Giampapa, FF14 held some impressive standards for MMOs. With high marks for visual and hearing options, FF14 scored 8.9 on the review scale. The only people left out of this game are those who can play with only a mouse. Everyone else who can use a joy pad, joystick or keyboard should have no issues with the game.
If you’re looking for a new MMO, give FF14 a try.
Poker Night 2 (XBLA) – AbleGamers’ Marco Pasqua gave Telltale one of our highest scores of the year for their backroom poker game Poker Night 2. In this traditional poker game, you face off against Taletale’s famous characters for an enjoyable evening of high-stakes hold’em shenanigans.
Far from a traditional action-packed game, Poker Night 2 offers just the right amount of sarcastic humor and eye candy to keep you entertained for hours on end.
Honorable mentions – Unfortunately, as we’ve stated, many of this year’s games left much to be desired as far as accessibility. But if you’re looking to take some risks for some good games that have some accessibility flaws, then consider the following.
Xbox One – IF you still want to get your loved one the next generation console for the holidays, make it the Xbox One. With custom game controllers hard at work to make peripherals available and Xbox allowing third-party hardware, we believe that Xbox One will have the same commanding lead on available assistive technology that the Xbox 360 had over PS3.
Kinect also adds another extra touch of accessibility with voice controls. As games continue to advance and the Kinect is more fully integrated into each game, voiceovers will be an additional option for those that would prefer to speak commands out loud rather than press buttons.
PlayStation 4 controllers are awkward. The new Dual Shock 4 controllers add touch screens, which while an interesting idea, seems to be a step backwards in accessibility. For many, the inclusion of a touchscreen adds another layer of inaccessibility. Now, not only do gamers with mobility impairments have to worry about awkwardly placed buttons, but also either the inability to touch or accidentally touching the screen in the middle of the controller.
The system only accepts backward compatibility on the old controllers on a game by game basis. The ability for PS4 friends to “log in” and assist you over difficult parts of the game does not make up for the lack of support for third-party peripheral builders.
Battlefield 4 (PC/Xbox) – A graphic rich battlefield environment offering hours of fun and fully customizable controls. BF4 scores low in our system because first person shooters in general are difficult for much of the disabled gamer community. However, with the ability to play in vehicles with friends, remappable controls and a commander position that requires no twitch reflexes, BF4 deserves an honorable mention.
If you’re going to roll the dice on a first person shooter this holiday season, we recommend Battlefield over the twitch-heavy, obvious console-port that is Call of Duty: Ghosts.
Assassin’s Creed 4 (PC/PS/Xbox/XBox One) – The Assassin’s Creed series has been the bane of many disabled gamers’ existence. One of the most fun titles ever created, running around stabbing people just because, you know, ninja. Yet even fully able-bodied gamers will tell you the control scheme of AC is complicated and button mashing at best.
AC4 is no different. The controls can be difficult and button mashing. The remap ability isn’t there. But yet it’s still fun to watch. If you don’t mind having to ask for help sometimes or have a loved one to play with, AC4 can be a lot of fun. Who doesn’t love sea shanties?
Last of Us (PS3) – Hands down one of the most interesting games of the year. The Last of Us won so much critical acclaim, it was guaranteed to be a success before it was ever released. But the gameplay is difficult. With a heavy reliance on sound, dark backgrounds and blurry shapes, complex controls and specific button mashing sequences being mandatory, the Last of Us is an accessibility nightmare for some.
However, the game is beautiful and the storyline is wonderful. If you have someone to play with or don’t mind dying a few thousand times, the storyline of the Last of Us is worth your time.
Many of the items listed here are available on Amazon. And even if none of these items tickled your fancy, please consider using the following link to purchase your holiday items. By using the following link and bookmarking it for all your holiday buying (or year-round for that matter) up to 10% of your purchase goes to the AbleGamers charity at no additional cost to you.
Happy Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Holiday Shopping!