How the Xbox Adaptive Controller is helping VA medical centers support Veterans

For active duty military members, playing video games can help release stress, build camaraderie and offer comforting familiarity in foreign environments. For Veterans returning from combat, gaming can reduce isolation, renew connections with fellow service members and provide therapeutic benefits.

Recognizing the unique value of gaming for the military community, Microsoft is partnering with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide Xbox Adaptive Controller units to 22 initial VA rehab centers across the U.S.

Launched in 2018, the Xbox Adaptive Controller was created to make gaming accessible to players with limited mobility by enabling them to customize their setups and connect with external devices like buttons, switches and joysticks that accommodate their playing. The controller, which can be used to play Xbox One and Windows 10 PC games, was developed after extensive consultation with gamers, accessibility advocates and nonprofits that work with gamers with limited mobility, including Veterans.

Ken Jones, the founder of Warfighter Engaged, a New Jersey-based nonprofit organization that provides gaming devices to wounded vets, says the Xbox Adaptive Controller makes gaming accessible to a broader range of Veterans.

“People just want to participate, and it’s going to allow them to do that,” he says. “It allows for a much bigger population of people to be included in gaming.”

Gaming is a popular activity among the military community, but navigating a traditional controller can be difficult or impossible for injured Veterans. The inability to game can mean the loss of connection to Veterans’

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