Hello Ability Powered gamers! Today I would like to talk to you about my latest assistive technology setup that helps me play games such as first person shooters, minecraft, and many other games that were previously unavailable to me since I play with onscreen keyboard. With this current setup I can now control my character with my chin. There are a few different components that I use like a game pad controller, a mount, a switch interface, switches, and the program Joy-to-Key Let me explain how it works
For the controller you can use a few different options. You can use an Xbox controller or a game pad sold for PC gaming like the one I chose to use. I chose the game pad because the thumb sticks have less resistance than the Xbox thumb sticks. I also bought some thumb grips to extend each stick a little higher you reduce the resistance a little bit more.
There are many different kinds of mounts you can purchase that will help you put your game pad into the position that you need it. Some of which are very expensive, but you don’t have to go that route! There are different kinds of mounts that more or less will do the same thing as the expensive mounts. You can even make your own with this handy guide from Oneswitch that is made from a selfie stick and an articulating arm. While I was looking for articulating arms I came across something else I thought would work really well and it did. It’s the Universal Smart Phone Stand by Neewer. It is actually a mount meant to hold cell phones. With a little bit of black electrical tape, I was able to secure my game pad controller onto the plate for mounting. So far it has worked great.
My Switch Interface
If you read my post about switches and switch interface you will know that you have to have a switch interface in order to add a switch to your computer. The switch interface I’m using is the XKeys USB 3. I chose it because it seemed fairly simple for a beginner like me to setup. It is simple! You just plug it into your computer in a USB Port, connect your switch, and then assign the switch a function in the software that is included with the switch interface. Super easy to do.
The switch I chose comes from Enablemart and is categorized as a sensitive switch. This means it takes very little pressure to push down the button. The switch itself is small enough to fit inside my hand and takes about as much pressure as it does to click a mouse. It also has a sticky back if you want to mount it somewhere else.
Joy to Key
Joy to Key is free software you can use to turn joystick movements into keyboard presses. You can assign a thumb stick to act as the W key when you press it up, act as the A key when you push it to the left, etc.. You can assign any keyboard command needed in a game to the thumb sticks or to your switches if they are configured correctly. It gives you so many more choices when remapping keys.
Putting It All Together
Once you have the controller mounted you can attach the other end to a table or desk near your chair. Now you can swivel the controller around and adjust it up, down, side to side, however you need it to easily press the thumb sticks with your chin. Place your switches where ever you need them to easily pressed them. So far I have only needed at most two so I hold one in my right hand and put one on my neck rest behind my head so I can lean my head back whenever I need to press it. You can make multiple game profiles in joy to key and configure the key presses to what ever keybinds you might need to play the game with. For example, when I play Minecraft I walk forward by pushing the thumb stick up, jump by pressing the thumb stick left, open inventory by pressing a thumb stick down, use an item by pressing the left mouse button, and place blocks with my right click button which is assigned to my switch.
I know it may sound complicated, but setting everything up was actually really easy once I learned how to do it thanks to a lot of help from Barry Ellis of oneswitch.org. He helped me figure out everything I needed and how to set it up. Hopefully I can pass on this information to any of you guys who are interested in setting up an assistive technology gaming setup like this. I will be posting some more more in depth looks at each of the products I am using currently but if you have any more questions that I may miss in these, please don’t hesitate to contact me! It doesn’t have to be complicated to get back into gaming. But don’t take my word for it, look for more posts about my equipment.