Among videogame fans, titles like Halo and Call of Duty are as ubiquitous as they come. But for some, those games are entirely unplayable. The Accessibility Arcade at U of T allows people with disabilities to enjoy these and other popular videogames using adapted controllers. Here’s a breakdown of some of the gear.
1. The arcade is a joint venture between researchers at University of Toronto’s Semaphore Lab and AbleGamers, a West Virginia–based non-profit organization. It’s the third of its kind in the world, and the first in Canada. “Nothing makes a disability go away faster than us having something in common to talk about,” says AbleGamers founder Mark Barlet. “If you play Call of Duty and I play Call of Duty, as soon as we start talking about Call of Duty, you forget the fact that I’m in a wheelchair or have some kind of disfigurement. My disability doesn’t define me. My playing defines me.”
2. The device pictured on the table above allows users to completely customize an Xbox 360 controller depending on their specific needs. All of the buttons on the controller can be assigned to other devices better suited to the gamer (such as the vibrator boxes and adaptable toggles).
3. In many games, the controller vibrates to let the player know something’s about to happen. When you remove the controller, you lose this feature. These vibrating boxes (resting on the man’s chest above) can be plugged into the adapter and placed anywhere, so users aren’t surprised by an impending zombie attack.
4. Gamers who are quadriplegic or have other severe mobility limitations can remove the toggle from the controller, raise the height of the toggle and use their chin to manoeuver it.
5. These arcade sticks made by Axis Control may look retro, but they’re designed for people with issues such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, or anyone who experiences tremors. When using the traditional controllers, having any kind of tremor can interrupt your game or send unwanted feedback to the console; Bigger, spaced-out buttons can help minimize that issue.
6. It can be difficult to impossible for some people to use a keyboard. The multi-function panel is an alternative keyboard that users can configure with their computer. It allows gamers to assign keys on a keyboard to individual buttons that can be placed anywhere on the panel.
The Accessible Arcade is located in Robarts Library. Visits are by appointment only.