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SpecialEffect News

15 Oct 2013

Brothers in arms - helping Ashley and Ryan tackle GTA V and FIFA

Gill and Gav rolled up in the van yesterday evening looking tired but happy. They'd spent the day in Crewe with Ryan and Ashley, two brothers with muscular dystrophy, a progressive condition that causes the muscles to gradually weaken.

Ashley, who's 23, loves his PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.  He was using a small unofficial Xbox controller to control both via an adaptor. Its small size and light weight suited his limited hand strength and movement.

As his hand strength decreased, he was starting to struggle with pressing the thumb sticks and the d-pad. It meant that many games that he desperately wanted to enjoy, including GTA V, CoD and FIFA, had become increasingly hard to play.

After some serious head-scratching and a prolonged rummage in our equipment boxes, Gill and Gav connected up a combination of interfaces, adaptors and a series of cunningly positioned finger microswitches. As a result, Ashley's now up and running with the latest titles! They've left him with the equipment on loan so that he can make sure it's right for him before he buys his own setup.

Below: Ashley powering through GTA V. Gillian makes sure the tech's doing its stuff. 

Ashley's brother Ryan is 19. He wanted to play GTA V on the Xbox, but his limited hand and finger movements weren't up to the complexity of a standard controller. He could, however, control a PC with a mouse and keyboard.

Step forward the Cronus, a little accessory that allows mouse and keyboard control of a games console. It's devices like these - i.e. not necessarily designed to combat disability - that can often make a huge difference, and in Ryan's case he can now play GTA like a dream.

On some games though - like FIFA - a keyboard just doesn't give the smooth character movement that a joystick can offer. So, after trying a number of different joypads and joysticks, Ryan found that the analog sticks on a standard PS3 controller offered just the right amount of resistance for him and are the perfect shape for his thumb and forefinger to grasp.

We all take the fact that we can use a standard controller for granted, but for gamers like Ryan and Ashley, it's a complexity too far. As a charity we owe it to gamers with disabilities to do our utmost to make the gaming experience as normal as possible. It's all about levelling the playing field, not just reducing the slope.

Below: Ryan playing FIFA on the Xbox with a PlayStation 3 controller (hidden) and PC keyboard. What a legend.


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