We’re on the cusp of a major development in gaming, and an important step forward for consumer technology. Historically, those who live with disabilities are overlooked when it comes to designing pieces of modern technology, and this has been most apparent in gaming. As you can imagine, it must be difficult to navigate traditional video game controllers for someone who has limited mobility. This presents something of an inclusivity issue in games that is finally being addressed with a massive step taken by Xbox — the imminent release of the Xbox Adaptive Controller, announced just a few months ago in May to extremely positive response, is a first from a major gaming company.
Microsoft have now released more details on the controller and, specificially, its packaging, which mirrors the device’s inclusive design aesthetic and makes it easier for those with limited mobility to unpack. It’s an important point of consistency for the company, speaking to the complete consumer experience, defining the packaging by unique physical touchpoints as well as visual and material cues and structural elements to complement a logical and seamless unboxing.
“The out-of-box experience is the first thing customers encounter when they purchase our products and it’s important that we get that right”, writes Microsoft in a press release sent to media this morning. “It was critically important that we incorporate accessibility into the packaging design and unboxing experience”.
Through a series of beta testing and feedback, Xbox have arrived at packaging with both stands out in it’s unique design but also slots right in with previous peripherals, sporting the familiar colour scheme so as not to “other” the device. A big part of this was the so-called “no teeth” principle, avoiding a common behaviour practiced by individuals with limited mobility when opening packages, particularly ones covered in plastic.
Most importantly, through careful design consideration, the packaging team at Microsoft have successfully created packaging which can be opened in various ways so as to speak to the range of limited mobility that exists among gamers. Details have already been released on just how dynamic the controller itself is, with almost 20 ports for peripherals leading to an infinite number of uses, but the packaging can also be unraveled in a number of ways. This is largely credited to the inclusion of medium-sized loops that can easily be manipulated in order to unbox the product in the absence of grasping dexterity.
A key feature is that both the single-shipper and retail package have been designed to unfold seamlessly, opposing conventional packaging with minimal friction so that no one needs to be tearing at anything to get inside. Specific to the shipper packaging – which covers the retail packaging — the box features discreet air cells included to protect the product despite its small footprint and clean design.
Those loops we mentioned above feature on every layer of the packaging, from the single tear-strip on the shipper to two loops purposed to “break-the-seal” of the retail packaging, offering multi-directional removal. A soft, grey loop initiates the opening experience, but there are also integrated loops on both the paper Quick Start Guide and cable folio. In total, that’s five loops involved in the entire process, requiring little to no strength to operate.
Once the controller is revealed, it sits on an open cavity area so it can be removed from the box via pulling the loop or just sliding it out directly. The box also has a low centre of gravity for extra stability.
Another important detail is that there are no twist-ties on the cords, so they can just be pulled out as needed.
“It was through continued engagement with the disability community and research groups that we grew our understanding of what accessible packaging could include”, continued Microsoft. “Every time we approach packaging in a new way, we strive to learn as much as we can and leverage those insights across all our work. The Xbox Adaptive Controller required us to think in depth about accessibility in packaging, and we believe it is a powerful milestone on our accessibility journey”.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller – complete with accessible packaging – is available for gamers in September of this year, and available for pre-order now for $129.99 AUD from Microsoft Store. Learn more about the Xbox Adaptive Controller here.