Will The Next-Gen Be Wheelchair Accessible? [Community Post]

May 10, 2012Written by Sebastian Moss

Editor’s Note: The following is a community post by PSLS member irishglass, who paints a bleak future for disabled gamers if the next generation is all about motion-controls.

This generation of consoles has definitely been an exciting one, a generation which saw a change in how we play games. Nintendo got the ball rolling with the Wii, a console that invited everyone to play, even your grandma. It was an idea which was a huge success, so huge that both Sony and Microsoft felt they needed to jump on the motion bandwagon ASAP with the Move and Kinect respectfully and so came a new age where the whole family can play together… well not quite.

I’m a disabled gamer – my disability is that I’m legally blind. I still have my vision but it’s very poor and I need to be close to the TV when playing as to see what I’m doing. My only remedy to this seems to be buying a bigger TV which, for the most part, seems to do the trick, until of course I try to play a game with motion controls. It seems that one of the biggest drawbacks of motion controls is that they require the player to be at a certain distance from its sensor bar (most notably Kinect with a suggested 6-8 feet) something which immediately makes me give up. At the moment these controllers are optional, as you don’t need to buy a Move or a Kinect, but with both Sony and MS claiming their devices are a success it seems to blow the door wide open for standard integration with next generation consoles, something that would make developers more inclined to use them as required features for gameplay.

The idea of motion controls seems to be to get people off the sofa and have “an experience the whole family can enjoy”. But it seems a trade-off had to be made to get the grandparents involved, and we have had to put the disabled out into the cold – and this doesn’t just apply to me or any other gamers who are visually impaired, but anyone with physical disability. Fun party games that require you to jump around in front of a camera are a “neddy no no” if you’re confined to a wheelchair, and those of you who have low mobility in your arms and can only play while having a controller on your lap better think twice before picking up games that make you use a wand like a sword.

So what can be done to make sure everyone can indeed enjoy the experiences of a PS4 or an Xbox 720? Motion controls being a key part in next-gen systems is just a guess at the moment as nothing has been officially announced, but in the likely event that it’s true, making it a requirement that all games must have full support for a regular controller would be a good start. But if you have a console with unique features you might want the devs to focus on them to push your system. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.

Should disabled gamers be excited for the next generation or not? All we can do is wait and see.

If you enjoyed irishglass’ post, be sure to vote for it to win the community writer award once all the entrants are published.