An Edmonton man living with a disability says a new controller coming out for his console later this year is a game-changer for gamers like himself.
Zach Weeks has cerebral palsy and playing sports growing up “wasn’t really in the question,” so he turned to virtual sports in the world of video games.
“You know, playing NHL, Madden,” he says.
“I’m more of a sports guy, so I really enjoyed those growing up, but now it’s getting a bit more immersive and complex with everything so the amount of different games that I can play are now limited.”
Because of his disability, Weeks, who owns a PlayStation 5, taught himself how to play those sports games using just one hand. However, first-person shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield are out of the question.
“One of the challenges is the controllers,” he says.
“Being able to hold on to them, being able to mash buttons, you know, twirl a joystick (is) not always easiest when you have cerebral palsy because depending on the type of cerebral palsy you have or the severity it impacts your brainwaves.
“Personally speaking, it affects my hand function, So playing games, you know, I’m sort of limited in terms of the type of gaming systems that I can play and I have always been (a) PlayStation guy,” he says.
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Earlier this year, PlayStation introduced its new access controller for gamers with disabilities. According to its website, gamers using the controller will have the ability to fully customize the controller to meet their diverse needs.
Sony designed the controller with the help of “accessibility organizations and experts to create a versatile controller kit that enables gamers with disabilities to play more comfortably and for longer periods, empowering more players to share in the joy of gaming.”
However, while writer Matthew Forchione applauds Sony’s dedication to be inclusive by creating the controller, he adds accessibility is not one size fits all.
“I know for me I don’t think it’s going to be very helpful. I think it will be a bad controller for me. For other people I think it will be a really good, useful controller,” he says.
Farchoine lives with stiff person syndrome, a rare progressive neurological disorder resulting in stiff muscles in the torso, arms and legs.
In his spare time, Farchoine writes articles for entertainment website Temple of Geek reviewing movies, TV shows, and video games. In February he reviewed the PS5 DualSense Edge controller based on its accessibility, giving it a seven out of 10.
While he says he’s only seen the images and videos of the new access controller online, his initial thoughts of the controller’s circular design has him believing he may have to stick with the original PS5 controller.
“My movement this way, my forwards and back movement, it’s very painful, it’s very difficult so even just moving that way on the controller is going to be a challenge.”
However, he is open to trying the new access controller.
Ken Hatch with the Calgary Scope Society is an advocate for people living with disabilities. In a statement he calls the new controller exciting, removing another barrier for people living with disabilities.
“As society prioritizes solving access issues, we have a fuller community that can include everyone. In the same way that game developers like Insomniac (Spider-Man) and Naughty Dog (The Last of Us) build accessibility features into their games, PlayStation is welcoming more gamers to their fan base without requiring them to change who they are.”
Preorders for the controller were open to the public as of July 21, and will be available for gamers on Dec. 6.