Microsoft and Special Olympics team up for esports event

It’s no secret that the video game industry has grown leaps and bounds in the past two decades. As a result, esports competitions have only gained popularity in recent years as the market has expanded. Production values have skyrocketed providing gamers with some of the most immersive experiences technology has to offer. Increases in revenues and video game production weren’t achieved by catering to the same small demographic for over twenty years. Gamers are more diverse than ever. Producers have broadened the accessibility of the video game market through distribution, marketing, and diversity in story-telling experiences and avatars.

A Controller for Everyone

Xbox Adaptive Controller

Photo courtesy of Microsoft

Now, the inclusive nature of the business is heading in an entirely new direction. Microsoft is among the first in the industry to enable gamers with disabilities through the newly announced Xbox Adaptive Controller unveiled in May. The controller is white, flat, and rectangular in shape. It consists of two large buttons and a directional pad. Furthermore, there are a total of 21 ports around the exterior of the gamepad. Additional accessories can be connected to the controller ports. Each of these peripherals can meet specific needs. The accessories developed by third parties can include items such as mouth-operated joysticks, foot pedals, a mouthpiece controlled by breathing patterns, and so much more. The controller will launch later this year. This proves that Microsoft is taking inclusivity seriously as a business model.

Perhaps, the most incredible aspect of Microsoft’s plan to develop a controller that can adjust for limited mobility is the fact that Microsoft doesn’t even have a forecast for how well such a product might sell. While it’s easy to understand the statics for those affected by disabilities in the U.S. alone, the difficulty is knowing how strong the demand for an adaptive controller among that population might be. Microsoft is certainly taking a risk. However, the company knows there is a gaming community that is clamoring for the product. That alone made the effort justifiable. As the industry continues to change, Microsoft’s plan is to always maintain accessibility as a high priority.

Esports in the Special Olympics

Microsoft didn’t stop there, however. This week, the company is taking the opportunity to bring video games to the Special Olympics. Participants from all over are converging in Seattle to take part in various sporting competitions. Aside from the athletic contests traditionally featured at the event, Microsoft and Special Olympics will also be hosting an esports event between various pre-qualified teams. The title of focus for the competition is Forza Motorsport 7.

The partnership between Microsoft and the Special Olympics is a mutually beneficial one and it is significant for both the gaming and esports communities, as well as the Special Olympics itself. Firstly, this partnership extends on Microsoft’s efforts to diversify its audience. It’s also a big step for esports to be recognized as a valid competitive tournament at the Special Olympics.

Furthermore, while the Special Olympics can help bring gaming and esports in front of a more traditional audience, Microsoft can introduce the Special Olympics to a demographic of gamers that may not be entirely aware of it.

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