Released last May, Xbox’s adaptive controller was the talk of town because of its emotional ad during this year’s Super Bowl.
Emotional Ad for the Xbox Adaptive Controller
Starring kids with physical disabilities, the commercial featured little gamers who used to find it difficult playing video games with friends. But now, thanks to Xbox’s adaptive controller, they can even compete with the best of players.
Grover Siegel, a sixth grader, was born with one of his hands only partially formed. This made using traditional gaming accessories difficult. “When I’m playing with a regular controller, there’s some things that don’t work for me,” he says.
Scroll down for the video
Jordan Reeves, a 13-year-old, has a missing left arm from the elbow down. She coauthored a book with her mom entitled Born Just Right. “It just slowed me down a lot more, when other people were, like . . .” she says, gesturing going fast.
Owen Sirmons is a nine-year-old who has a rare genetic disorder called Escobar syndrome. “It’s difficult for me to use both joysticks and the D pad at the exact same time.”
Owen’s parents found it hard to watch Owen struggle. In the commercial, his father says, “One of the biggest fears early on is, how will Owen be viewed by the other kids? He’s not different when he plays.”
A boy named Shan and a girl named Taylor are also missing parts of their arms. So is Ian, who says that he’s just accepted his limitations when it came to gaming. “I never thought it was unfair. I just thought, ‘Hey, this is the way it is, and it’s not gonna change,'” he says.
With the adaptive controller released, each of the kids above began using it. Depending on the user’s needs, the controller can be customized with different parts and attachments to make gaming easier.
“What I like about the adaptive controller is now everyone can play,” says Owen.
Video clips show each of the children happily gaming, celebrating wins and laughing with friends.
“No matter how your body is or how fast you are, you can play,” one of the kids says.
The ad ends with a message from Microsoft: “When everybody plays, we all win.”
After the touching ad aired, the tweets immediately went out, expressing how much the commercial was appreciated. Even celebrities shed a few tears.
Kathleen Hall, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for brand, advertising, and research, said, “The attitudes, the positivity, it’s just really inspiring. And then introducing them to the product—they all love gaming. And they weren’t like, ‘Oh, woe is me, I can’t do this.’ They all had their work-arounds. They figured it out, ways to make it work for them. But what the adaptive controller does is it makes it that much easier for them to play and to be as good as they can be. You give them the adaptive controller, and within minutes, they’re lit up and excited and doing things they couldn’t do before or couldn’t do as easily.”
Microsoft worked with multiple people and organizations such as AbleGamers to build the best possible controller for players with disabilities. Steven Spohn, AbleGamers COO, has been one of the controller’s biggest supporters.