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What Is Adaptive Gaming? (Everything You Need To Know)

What Is Adaptive Gaming? (Everything You Need To Know)

There are millions of gamers across the world, and a good chunk of this number uses adaptive gaming controllers to play their favorite games. But what is adaptive gaming, and what platforms let you use adaptive controllers?

What Is Adaptive Gaming?

Adaptive gaming is a concept that allows gamers who are disabled to have more access to standard game titles by using adaptive controllers. Adaptive controllers are designed and remapped for people with restricted mobility.

Adaptive gaming is an idea popularly spearheaded by Xbox. Their adaptive controller was released in 2018 after many prototypes had been developed. Since then, many companies have followed in their footsteps. 

With these adaptive controllers, you will need to remap many functions. Remapping will allow almost all controls on the game to be assigned to the adaptive switches and joypads.

Luckily, many modern games allow in-game remapping and customization. 

If a game doesn’t allow remapping, you can use software like Autohotkey and X360ce on PC to remap game controls.

Interestingly, this software even lets you customize and tailor your controls to your needs better than in-game customizations.

These adaptive controllers have been lauded by parents with children who are mildly or even severely disabled.

These parents constantly express their gratitude for the creation of these controllers, as it allows their kids to play traditional games like FIFA, Valorant, and Apex Legends without much difficulty.

But how do you go about using an adaptive controller?

How Is an Adaptive Gaming Controller Used?

Adaptive gaming controllers are used by remapping many game functions and controls to their switches and joysticks. Disabled people press these switches and optionally flick joysticks to issue a command in games they play.

More often than not, the adaptive switches are only assigned 1 or 2 buttons. The remaining buttons are left on a traditional controller, which another party uses to assist when playing games. 

For example, this Logitech kit review shows a disabled player assisted by a companion while playing FIFA.

In addition to these adaptive controllers, gamers with disabilities may also use keyboards, mice, or even traditional controllers, depending on the severity of their disability. 

Many of these gaming kits include hook-and-loop game boards and flexible hook-and-loop keyboards.

Manufacturers design these boards to allow you to connect your switches and joysticks, which foster more accessible gameplay. Some manufacturers even include velcro to help fasten buttons to boards easily.

Adaptive gaming controllers are highly customizable and can fit the gamer’s needs, making the gaming experience comfortable.

For this reason, companies like Xbox and Logitech have developed controllers to cater to their users who have disabilities and make their gaming experience their own unique experience.

The Xbox Series S and X are compatible with many adaptive gaming controllers, but what about the PlayStation 5?

Does PlayStation 5 Have Adaptive Controllers?

PlayStation 5 does not have any official controllers available for gamers who are disabled. However, PS5 controllers have adaptive triggers that adjust the tension of the rear buttons and make them easier to press. 

Computer engineers like Ben Heck have created adaptive gaming controller mods compatible with many consoles and PCs, including the PS5 and many gamers with disabilities have appreciated these pieces of software.

PlayStation has been criticized for its lack of adaptive gaming controllers. However, Sony has made efforts to include accessibility features in their games for people with cognitive disabilities. 

For example, Naughty Dog and Insomniac games have included accessibility features in their games.

In games like Uncharted and Spiderman, you can alter the settings to include or eliminate puzzles and exploration. Also, you can change the difficulty to your desired level.

Now that we’ve covered Microsoft and Sony, let’s take a look at Nintendo’s efforts in accessibility.

Does Nintendo Switch Have Adaptive Controllers?

The Nintendo Switch does not have an official adaptive controller for gamers with disabilities. However, its buttons can be remapped for increased accessibility. Some accessory manufacturers have created adaptive controllers for the Switch as well.

While creating the Switch, Nintendo paid particular attention to its level of accessibility. The gaming company included software that allows you to remap functions and buttons according to your taste.

This button remapping feature is available on the Nintendo’s Joy-con controllers, Pro Controllers, and the Switch Lite’s built-in controllers. This feature does not work on any third-party controllers designed for the Switch.

After remapping the Switch’s controls, you can save these customized settings as one of the handheld console’s “favorite profiles.” This allows you to easily switch between them, depending on what game you’re playing. 

To remap these buttons:

  1. Click on settings from the home menu, and click on controllers and sensors.
  2. Remap the controls to your heart’s content, and click on “done” when you’re finished.
  3. Remember to save this configuration by tapping “save as a preset.”

Let’s delve a little deeper into the accessibility features of the Xbox Series X/S.

More About Xbox Series X/S Adaptive Controllers?

Xbox Series X and S have an adaptive controller for gamers who are disabled. Originally created in 2018 for the Xbox One, it is specifically designed to increase accessibility for gamers with restricted mobility. 

The controller created by Warfighter Engaged largely inspired the Xbox adaptive controllers. Warfighter Engaged developed a controller that helped injured army veterans access gaming devices and controls.

However, their adaptive controllers aren’t their first attempt to increase accessibility. Xbox released a Kinect motion-sensing input device back in 2010.

After a series of prototypes, Xbox released the adaptive controllers and three other input devices:

  • a PDP one-handed joystick
  • a quad stick
  • a head-mounted button system

These wireless controllers increase accessibility for all disabled gamers worldwide. Although they were made for Xbox One consoles, they’re forward compatible, so they can be used on Xbox X and S consoles.

If you’re getting an adaptive controller, you might be wondering if you can also use it on a PC as well.

Can You Use An Adaptive Controller on PC?

You can use adaptive controllers to play multiple games on your PC. Many adaptive controllers are compatible with PCs, and you can connect them using Bluetooth or USB-C cables.

Although the Xbox adaptive controller works on the PC, they have slightly more limited functionality. For example, you can’t connect the Xbox adaptive controllers to your PC using Bluetooth, you’ll have to use USB-C cables.

If you are interested in checking out an adaptive controller, here is my recommendation.

Best Adaptive Controller

The best adaptive controller for PC and Xbox remains the Xb1 Adaptive Controller. This adaptive controller allows total remapping of a game’s buttons and offers the best connectivity.

Other adaptive controllers include the following:

These are used together or separately, depending on the type of disability of each gamer.

Adaptive gaming is awesome because it allows everyone to enjoy the thrill of gaming.


👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers, viewers, and gamers answer questions they have regarding live streaming, gaming, and PCs. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I also have a Youtube channel where I make videos about streaming. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.