Nintendo America Accessibility

TehcnoPlus SNES joystick

Nintendo of America used to do some great things for game accessibility. Not sure if they still do. Great anecdote from "softbanrespawn04" at Kotaku after a SpecialEffect story this month.

"When I was in 6th grade I got hit by a truck. It broke my arm, leg, hip, and skull, and blasted my thumb and my nose almost completely off my body. Thanks to modern medical science, I was fine by a year later and today you wouldn't even know it happened, but for the months while I was recovering I couldn't play any games.

My console of choice at the time was my SNES, and that's pretty hard to play when your right arm is in a cast all the way up to your shoulder and the hand's thumb is hanging on by a handful of stitches. This was before the internet, so I asked my mom to write a letter to Nintendo, asking them if they had any one-handed, left-hand controllers for the SNES, and if they did, where I could buy one. She suggested that we include a trace of my left hand so they'd know how big it was.

Two weeks later, we got a box at the front door from Nintendo. It was a flight stick that they adapted to work for the SNES. Apparently, they used my hand trace to mod the stick and add all the SNES buttons along the joystick itself in the right spots for a child's left hand.

Nintendo made a life-long fan that day."

Far more than Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo have dipped their toes into supporting disabled gamers in the past, with their NES Hands Free Controller and support for the PDG Team Xtreme accessible interfaces. Shame none of the big manufacturers of gaming hardware beyond Apple seem to be actively doing anything to take into account the needs of disabled gamers. Have groups like AbleGamers and SpecialEffect made it too easy for them to wash their hands of any responsibility I wonder?

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