There are few things more heartwarming than seeing an engineering genius tackle a problem that totally changes someone’s life for the better. It’s the main reason to watch Simon Reeve’s Big Life Fix and it’s why AbleGamers is such an amazing charity operation.
They’re dedicated to helping people with disabilities enjoy their favourite hobby - and along the way they’ve come up with some incredible solutions of hyper-specific problems. Steve Spohn, COO of AbleGamers, shared some of the work they do around the world.
Assistive technology comes in many forms
“We provide a better quality of life for people with disabilities through video games, to help free them from social and economic isolation,” Spohn explains. “Or ‘We give controllers to people so they can play video games!’”
Sometimes all a person needs to get their game on is some velcro to hold a controller in place or a rubber band to help with access to a tricky trigger button. Other people need more assistance, which is where the Adroit Controller comes in handy. It’s an amazing piece of tech that lets you use any switches on the market to mimic Xbox controls.
Sip and Puff let your mouth do the gaming
The QuadStick is a controller that can be manipulated with the mouth, helping quadriplegics access games. “It has a giant learning curve,” Spohn says. “Even if you have to use it, it’s not the easiest controller in the world.”
Moving it around replaces the movement controls, while a sipping or puffing motion replaces button-mashing. Imagine blowing bubbles into a milkshake to attack the baddies and you’ve got the general idea.
Eye-tracking means everyone can play
For people who have limited movement or feeling in their fingers, eye-tracking technology is a brilliant replacement for shifting the camera around in games like Assassin’s Creed.
A device like the Sentry Gaming Eye Tracker can eliminate the need for a mouse or thumbstick, so gamers can concentrate on sneak-attacking villains.
Need a whole room built? No worries
Spohn is quick to say they don’t actually provide the room, but AbleGamers will stock a designated space with all the goodies required to help people play – to the tune of $10,000 worth of equipment.
It’s an ideal solution for facilities that work with gamers who have disabilities, be they kids, returning military personnel who have lost limbs, or even adults who have never gamed before. The custom set-up comes with staff training, troubleshooting support, and, of course, games!
Every solution is tailored to the problem
Not every fix requires thousands of dollars. One of Steve’s favourite stories is about a boy, Giddeon, whose fingers came out from just past his shoulderblades. Giddeon wanted to play with the Microsoft Kinect, but the system wasn’t registering his arm movements.
The solution: a piece of packing foam from the AbleGamers booth, that he could wave like a sword. Perfect!
Watch Simon Reeve’s Big Life Fix tonight at 8:35pm on SBS.