Sony has developed an innovative controller in collaboration with disabled gamers to address accessibility challenges in traditional gaming.
Playing video games has long been a challenge for many people with disabilities, since the traditional controllers for the PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo can be difficult or even impossible to manoeuvre when a person has limited mobility.
Two-thirds of disabled gamers face barriers to playing games, and 40 percent have bought video games that they were unable to use because of poor accessibility, according to a 2021 report by UK disability equality charity Scope.
Losing the ability to play doesn't just mean the loss of a favourite pastime - it can also exasperate social isolation for a community that already experiences it at a far higher rate than the general population.
Sony's new Access Controller, developed with input from accessibility consultants aims to change that.
A groundbreaking controller for gaming accessibility
Disabled gamers have been collaborating with Sony since 2018 to contribute to the design of the Access Controller.
This unique, circular device can be placed on a table or wheelchair tray and offers a multitude of customisable options to cater to the specific needs of users.
It allows for the modification of buttons and thumbsticks, the programming of specialised controls, and even the pairing of two controllers to function as one.
"The button sizes are really huge and I game with the side of my hands and my hands are pretty big. So me being able to space off the buttons, I'll be able to press the buttons in a way where I'm not hitting two buttons at a time," explains Paul Lane, an Accessibility Consultant for PlayStation.
"It's good to see that the industry is really taking the plunge" on the issue of accessibility, says Jeremy Lecerf, a French accessibility in gaming specialist who lives with myopathy, as he tested the "Access Controller" on the game Stray.
"Video games have enabled me to have a life that is closer to normality, to have a social life," explains Lecerf.
The controller will be available from 6 December at a recommended retail price in Europe of €89.99 and $89.99 in the US, around the cost of existing classic models.
Check out the video above to see a closer look of the new Access Controller.