You might not have had a good reason to weep over the on-field antics at Mercedez-Benz Stadium on February 3, 2019, but Microsoft's X-Box Super Bowl commercial, featuring lots of kids using the adaptive controller, was an absolute tear-jerker. These kids love video games, and boy did Twitter love them.
There were no throwback pop stars, no mermaids or explosions or Swarovski crystals, just a bunch of children with various abilities talking about how much they love gaming with the adaptive controller, which has two large programmable buttons and 19 jacks to allow users to adapt their consoles to their needs. Users can operate the system using their feet, or touch pads, for example, as well as set up multiplayer arrangements. Titled "We All Win," the Microsoft ad spot had viewers setting their feelings afloat on Twitter: "Every time I see one of the commercials for the Xbox Adaptive Controller, I tear up," wrote user Jennifer Losi.
"This Xbox adaptive controller commercial is touching and good," tweeted a GameInformer editor.
"Rivers are pouring down my face," wrote Jackie The Avocado, who seemingly spoke for everyone.
"I like video games, my friends, my family, and again video games," says a boy in the commercial. "Whenever I play, it makes me happy," says another. The children in the ad are shown playing with their friends, like a gamer version of The Sandlot. Their parents speak to how important it is that their kids can participate in pastimes enjoyed by all their friends.
It is indeed a touching sight, but the catchphrase "when everyone plays, we all win" strikes on a pointed truth: accessible game design benefits everyone. Microsoft announced in 2018 that a charity had developed a way to play Minecraft using just your eyes; features like subtitles are used by people of all abilities, with a reported 60 percent of gamers using subtitles at some point, according to AbilityNet, and aging users benefiting from accessibility where conditions like arthritis impact their abilities. Games like Big Bird's Comfy Cozy Nest can help children recover from trauma, as Romper previously reported, and interactive games can be enriching for children with special needs, as well as a crucial medium for communication.
While schools are obligated to ensure programs and games are accessible to all students, the Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 has been resisted by game developers who argue that video games constitute entertainment, not communication, per the FCC. A 2010 paper in Universal Access in the Information Society estimated 2 percent of the U.S. population cannot play video games due to a disability, while 9 percent suffer a degraded gaming experience.
So, if you were moved by the kids in this particular commercial, there are plenty more out there who could benefit by accessibility-minded developers as well as access to adaptable hardwear for the games they love.
You can watch the full commercial here:
As I might have said during my ill-fated Super Mario days, the happiness on these kids' faces is worth some serious gold coin.