screenshot from video on overclockers uk forums

in the number of issues with the gaming arena and the digital world at large, there are certain things many other players may face that may never cross your mind.  we generally take simple things like control schemes and key-mapping to be not much more than an extra – we won’t necessarily use it, but it’s there if we want to customize things a little bit for our playing experience.  but what if key customization was necessary for you to play the game at all?  what if you had a problem where you couldn’t use one hand?  or an arm?  or both?  in this case having complete control over methods of input and key mapping are absolutely important, since the scheme you’d be using will likely be far from what’s considered “standard” controls.  this is the route many disabled gamers have to take.

so it became a problem for gamer gareth garratt when any sort of control customization options were nowhere to be found in his recently purchased copy of dead space 2.  gareth lives with cerebral palsy and can’t control games with his hands.  his solution is operating a mouse or controller with his chin to control characters and vehicles in most games that he plays, which is done through control customization.  a few days ago he posted his issue on the overclockers UK forum as well as the official electronic arts forum, to see if there was a way that dead space 2 could have that kind of customization.  a lot of forum users offered help and and tips as far as third party applications or scripts that would allow remapping where software wouldn’t support it, which got him to the point of “kind of working.”  you can see videos of gareth gaming in his style on the overclockers UK forum.  the most ridiculous part is that there were people posting in that thread that wouldn’t believe that this was a legit question. EA forum admin EA_BGY-11 promised in a post to “send this up the ladder,” and it seems that those a few rungs above have listened.

visceral games and executive producer steve papoutsis told joystiq that a patch for full control customization is coming, and will be formally announced after it has been fully tested.  his full comments:

Dead Space 2 PC Players,
The Dead Space 2 team is aware of the issue that disabled players are having with Dead Space 2 PC. In fact a number of folks on our team are so passionate about getting this fix done that they are currently working hard to allow players to re-map key bindings to the mouse which should help disabled players enjoy the game.

I’d like to say I’m very proud of the people on the Dead Space 2 team for coming in today and jumping on the fix first thing. Working with such a talented and compassionate group of people is incredible and makes me proud to be a part of the Dead Space 2 team, Visceral Games, and Electronic Arts. 

In addition to the key binding fix the patch will include other fixes for PC players. Thank you for taking up the cause for our disabled players and letting us know about this problem. Once the patch is fully tested we will announce a release date.

this is just the latest point of contention in what has been a long campaign.  comedian chuck bittner of AskACapper, the self-proclaimed “can’t stand up comedian,” started a petition in 2009 asking video game developers to include this functionality on behalf of all gamers – disabled and non alike.  according to an interview with digital hippos, he was injured in a car accident in 1995 which left him paralyzed from the chest down with limited use of his arms and hands.  his petition outlined the following requests:

Option 1. Developers: Could spend the time and resources needed to build reMapping into their games.

Option 2. Console Manufactures: Build reMapping into your systems. Allow users to build reMapping layouts and save them. What are the benefits of console side reMapping? 

1. It will free the game developers from needing to do any more coding or QA testing.2. One reMap for multiple games. For example if a player has one Call of Duty layout he can use it across all CoD games.

take a look at that link – you’ll see that chuck is not a man that is easily held back.  a quadriplegic himself, he still makes it happen in FPS games like call of duty.  you can watch him rack up some kills on the video on his site, controlling his character using his face on the controller.

a positive step in digital accessibility.  if you’d like to sign the petition, which is aimed at many other developers, you can do so here.

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1 Comment

Rob February 8, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Next time I get pissy about a fraction-of-a-second delay between my button press and avatar reaction, I'll consider the challenges that other players face. All the respect in the world goes out to these gamers and their refusal to quit.

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Author and creator of Technical Fowl. IT/Tech hero. Jiu Jitsu purple belt. Enjoying the venn diagram intersection of tech, gaming, business, and politics.

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