For most of us pressing the trigger button while tilting the joystick, and knocking down your enemies using a series of combinations and button presses, is an every day struggle in the gaming world. But for quadriplegics, a simple action like pressing the A button and tilting the wheel is a challenge that not many can do.
Ruben Rios is a quadriplegic gamer, for him playing a game takes a series of orchestrated, puffs, huffs, sips, flips of his tongue, and even a smooth fluid motion of his head to control his joystick.
Rios has no use of his body below his shoulders, aside from losing his body movements, he lost his passion of video games, until he discovered the head controller it is an innovative design from Ken Yankelevitz, an engineer from Montana who has one hobby; Making unique controllers for quadriplegics to give them access to video games that normally would require the use of two hands.
Yankelevitz is a retired Aerospace engineer reaching his 70th birthday. For the past 30 years, Yankelevitz has kept disabled gamers active in the gaming realm all by himself. But reaching his 70th birthday puts him one step closer to not being able to make more of these controllers, so much in fact that disabled gamers fear that there will be no one else available to replace Yankelevitz once he stops producing his video game controllers.
“If Ken stops making these controllers we’re going to be pretty much left out to dry,” Rios said.
In 1981 Yankelevitz came into the picture when he created the first Atari Game Console controler to give quadriplegic people a chance to have fun with one of the very limited activities available to them. For the most part, video games are one of the only things that can keep quadriplegic people sane. A gaming console is one of the only escapes they have, aside from television, or reading.
As technology increased and the gaming consoles began to expand to more sophisticated controllers, so did Yankelevitz, he stated that the big companies don’t feel like they need to jump into this market because there is no “high” demand to make them profitable. Yankelevitz began to design his own controller, eventually he was able to create his most current version of the video game controller, it is controlled by the movements of your head, lips, flicks of the tongue, and even puffs of air, or sips of air through specifically designed tubes.
Quadriplegic gamers now had the ability to play video games using only their mouth. Yankelevitz said that the system is very difficult to learn, but for a person who suffers paralysis of both arms and both legs, the device is something that gives them control of at least one aspect of their life.
it comes to show you that no matter what, true gamers will never let anything stand in their way of racking up that Xbox live gamer score, or increasing their rating. It also shows you that you don’t have to be a big company to make an impact in someone’s life, for nearly 30 years Ynkelevitz has kept the small community of quadriplegic gamers alive.
The best thing about the Controller, aside from giving quadriplegics the ability to play a game, is the price ($225 for PlayStation 2 controller, $260 for Xbox 360), if a company like Sony, or Microsoft were to make a controller like this, it would cost them nearly $1000 U.S. dollars per controller, but because they are hand made, and they are made as a hobby, Ken can make them at a reasonable price for every future gamer in the community. You can find out more about QuadControl here and see the device in action in the video below.