I don’t really know where to start here…
This is quite an important thing for me and for some very personal reasons, in this post you might see a different side to me, a side I don’t like to let go, a side that may show I’m a little human after all.
It all started at the turn of this century, sounds like another history lesson doesn’t it?
My son was born with ‘Right Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy’ and Status ‘Epilepticus’, in English, this means he paralysed down his right side and has seizures that are life threatening. Four years ago Mrs Grim and I had to make the life changing decision that no parent should make, a major brain operation that could save our sons life but possibly leave him with total paralysis, unable to speak, no memories or worse still take him from us. If we didn’t go ahead with the operation then the consequences were much darker and guaranteed, we went along with an operation that at that time had only been performed three times in the UK, a ‘Left Hemispherectomy’ in other words, remove half of his brain to stop the epilepsy.
Thankfully, this did help hugely with the life threatening epilepsy, but it also meant that he was even weaker down his right side.
Why am I telling you this? He loves playing his Xbox 360, and as a gamer yourself (possibly) you will know that trying to use a controller one handed is near impossible… yet he kept trying and he got there, to a fashion.
When we were told he would be weaker on his right hand side I decided to try and find out if there was such a thing as a one handed controller. Well, seeing as I wanted an Xbox 360 controller I thought I would start with Microsoft, common sense really wouldn’t you say?
Well, after over 20 E-mails I decided that I would phone them, because I hadn’t got back ONE reply!
On the phone I got pushed from pillar to post by people saying it nothing to do with them so they pass me to someone that could help, well, 2 hours later and with a dry mouth I finally spoke to someone that asked me for my email address, I gave it and within 5 minutes I had a reply along the lines of ‘Microsoft will not help you perusing this line of inquiry because anyone that modifies a Microsoft controller is ‘Hacking’ Microsoft equipment and anyone using a modified controller is breaking the terms and conditions of using an Xbox 360… But these are not my views and if I can help in anyway I will, here are a few websites to try and an email address of someone that could help you, please don’t tell anyone who helped you with this’ There are good people on this planet!
After a few emails back and forth I had some luck, Bill at Special Effect got chatting and I discovered a group of people that do their VERY BEST to help disabled gamers.
As they say on their website…
By using technology ranging from modified joypads to eye-control, we’re finding a way for people to play to the very best of their abilities.
But we’re not just doing it for fun. By leveling the playing field, we’re bringing families and friends together and having a profoundly positive impact on therapy, confidence and rehabilitation.
Bill at Special Effect was a great help and, from their lone store, lent us some one handed controllers to try out before committing to buying one and finding out we had spent £100+ on something that wasn’t suitable, there aren’t many out there and some, like Ben Heck controller were in the price range of $350 (£235).
Eventually we settled on the Dragon Plus controller for the PS2/3 with an adapter to make it work with the Xbox.
These guys are the best!
It’s not just Joypads though, go and check out their site, you’ll be moved by all the help these guys have given. Eyegaze for instance, giving someone the ability to communicate through a PC with their eyes! Not just communicate but to play games too! Things like this are giving people the ability to still talk and play with their loved ones, that’s a gift that is so special! Why is it down to a charity to try and help? Why can’t the big companies help? Microsoft (from my experience) couldn’t give a monkeys about helping my son, why? Maybe £100 isn’t enough for them to worry about? Seems a little unfair, They will release a controller that flashes or with a different colour and pattern that will help… well, no one, but won’t even forward the details of a charity that can help.
The Guys I played on the Xbox with back then (And still do now some of them (on the 360) raised money to buy my son his controller through JustGiving, they went way above the ‘Call of Duty’ and raised over £700 if I remember rightly, that paid for the controller and the rest went to Special Effect, after all, they deserve all the help they get for all the help they give.
Can you imagine what it would be like not being able to play you PS3/4 or Xbox 360/One ever again because the controller supplied isn’t suitable? Can you imagine not being able to tell your wife or children that you love them? Bill and the guys at Special Effect do everything in their power to to fix these and more problems. So from me and my son…
If you can help then please do.
Thank you, Grim.