Hi guys and welcome back to Technology Reviews, where today, I am posting another of my Experiments with Adaptive Gaming blogs, on how much easier latchboxes make it to play racing games. But first of all a massive apology for not posting this in the last few weeks like I was supposed to. I’ve recently started volunteer work as a Lead Reporter for Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Change Makers programme _ who I will be with until next year _ and the training we were doing this week meant I just couldn’t find the time. But also thanks to everyone who has been checking out my YouTube videos. Let’s see if we can keep this growing!
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But now, let’s get into this blog!
The Latchbox I’m talking about in this blog was another bit of the equipment loaned to me by the UK charity _ Special Effect _ which is a charity getting disabled people back into gaming. Although I’m using it on my Xbox One S to play racing games and others like Red Dead Redemption 2, there are other systems which can use it _ I think Playstation and Nintendo both support it _ and this particular one is by a website called OneSwitch. It costs £35 and you will have to email to check availability, also paying for your shipping.
When I originally asked to try the Latchbox out, my main intentions were to try it out with racing games, and not to try it with others that don’t have Latching options built in, although I’ve since tried it with Red Dead Redemption. (If anyone reading this doesn’t know what Latching options are, they are basically the ability to hold down a button once to carry out a particular action, instead of having to hold it down for a long time, which many disabled people _ including myself _ might find difficult. Many new games come with these options already built in, but there’s even been some released in the last few years and older games that don’t have these options _ so a Latchbox is one of the bits of equipment you would order for those games that don’t). When playing racing games, I have to play with switches behind my head for excelerate and break, while moving the right analog stick to steer (I’ve tried other options but they’re just too uncomfortable).
But thinking primarily about a using a Latchbox as a way of overcoming the restriction of not being able to play racing games, I’d say it’s not the latchbox that is the actual problem, but instead it’s the way racing games are designed and how they need to look further into Accessibility as a whole _ and talk to more people _ so they can truly include other accessibility options that could make gaming truly inclusive. Something I would advise is if developers of racers could include an Accessibility option like: Lift Finger to Break, which for me would translate to lift head to break, and which would automatically go into the RT, R2 or Zr button on either Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo. This is something I’m thinking of talking about on another blog which I’m going to try writing soon, regarding accessibility options that would truly make gaming open to everyone, because although developers at Playground games behind the Forza series have become brilliant with their accessibility options in recent years _ both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Motorsport being great examples _ they _ and other developers out there _ could do more to make their options more accessible!
But since this blog is about the need for a Latchbox and not to go on a rant about racing games _ although my title doesn’t mention them _ I’ll look at some games a Latchbox could be useful for.
A game I’ve mentioned already but haven’t been able to give my thoughts on yet, is Red Dead Redemption 2. Despite a slow start _ which would be my only bit of criticism because the amount I can hold the sticks down is still my only problem _ knowing I’ll be able to play it using a Latchbox as my option for aiming leaves me wanting to keep trying it until I get to that bit.
So overall, I would say a Latchbox is a good bit of equipment to have, but it’s the people behind making games that need to make them more accessible. If you can’t include latching in your game, please make sure you’re game has other options to make them more accessible! For the past few months, I’ve felt like it’s easier to try Latching in shooter games instead of racing _ even though I’m a fan of both!
Latchboxes can plug into the USB port on the Xbox Adaptive Controller, with your chosen switch plugged into the In option.