back to article Disabled dude demands EA improves gaming access

A disabled man is campaigning for EA to adapt the controls on Dead Space 2, so he can play the game using only his chin. Gaming enthusiast Gareth suffers from cerebral palsy and, as a result, can't move his arms. He pursues his passion by controlling a mouse with his chin. Gareth raised his dilemma in a thread at Overclockers …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the device maker?

    I'm not unsympathetic to his needs, but why is this an obligation of the individual game makers instead of a hardware issue for the console and controller makers.

    This gentleman needs a special controller that is adapted to his needs, this would allow him to send whatever inputs a game needs without modifying the game.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      RE: What about the device maker?

      To quote the petition:

      "This petition is from my perspective as a disabled gamer who finds many games unplayable because of my inability to reach buttons, but also for millions of gamers who find today's game presets don't meet their needs.

      Option 1. Developers: Could spend the time and resources needed to build reMapping into their games.

      Option 2. Console Manufactures: Build reMapping into your systems. Allow users to build reMapping layouts and save them. What are the benefits of console side reMapping?

      1. It will free the game developers from needing to do any more coding or QA testing.

      2. One reMap for multiple games. For example if a player has one Call of Duty layout he can use it across all CoD games."

      A specialised device maker would result in cost prohibitive devices that would only suit an extremely small group of people. As demonstrated by the YouTube videos of Chuck Bittner and Gareth they are capable of using existing devices. The problem simply exists in that certain games have mappings that hinder their play since the layout is not conducive to their playing technique.

      As a left hander who has frequently found it difficult to play some FPS games which assume you are right handed and do not provide key remapping I gladly welcome this to be a universal feature. There's also the consideration that many people would like the ability to remap keys to match that of others games for consistency.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Good idea

      Having briefly looked over the forum, it appears he owns a mouse that can customise inputs. However he says it doesn't always work with every game.

    3. Steven Knox Silver badge


      medical devices are concentrated on utility and communication and not on entertainment. Due to proprietary technology, the costs involved for customizing said devices could easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars -- and it'd have to be done for each one individually.

      In contrast, customized control mapping in PC games has been around for decades, developers already have to do it in a hardcoded manner for any game released for multiple platforms, so adding a config file/section and developing a customization screen would solve the problem for all gamers, and should be no more than an hour or two of work for a competent games development team.

      Oh wait, we're talking about EA here. Never mind.

    4. Aaron Em

      Did you watch the video?

      If you did, you'd see that he already uses "a special controller that is adapted to his needs". The problem is that the game won't let him remap the actions the way he needs to, which is purely a problem with the user interface of the game itself.

      Try maybe next time finding out what's actually going on first?

    5. dave 46


      Every disabled person buy expensive specialist hardware then spend time making complicated per-game key mappings or the software developer meets some basic standards?

      It's not too much to ask you to be able to bind mouse 1 rather than w to run is it? Shouldn't we expect this minimum of functionality?

    6. Barticus
      Thumb Down


      From the video it looked like he was using a standard mouse to control why should he have to pay through the nose to get a 'special controller' when he can obviously use a standard one.

      EA are terrible at writing control customisation code. Case in point...when I bought BF2142 and found that it didn't save my mouse button customisations I complained...only to be told that 'its been that way since the first Battlefield game'...WTF?! EA really need to get themselves some programmers that actually know how to program.

    7. Graham Marsden

      Read the Overclockers post...

      ... "i payed for dead space 2 today. installed it and ran the game. went to settings, controls , to custom them, and guess what!!! theres no way to have the walk forward on a mouse button..."

      He *has* a special controller adapted to his needs, but it's the *game* that doesn't allow the controls to be re-mapped so he can use them.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Once upon a time...

      every self respecting game engine had a configurable input mapping system. It was common practice for over a decade. It really isn't a big ask. The odds are it's still lurking under the surface, ready to accept an edited configuration if only the game would let you edit it.

    9. Anonymous Coward

      I am not so sure.

      Because the consoles have rigidly defined control schemes PC gamers are losing the traditional keyboard binding options when these games are shoddily ported back.

      The fault lies squarely with the developers being cheap.

      EA is not even close to being the worst offender here; that dubious accolade must go to Ubisoft....

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Possibly ...

      ...creating a new device may require that the maker of the game provide the capabilities for such device to work within the game.

      This means that if you have a game with non-changable controls , you may be stuff being able to use nothing more then a keyboard/mouse.

    11. NoneSuch

      It is not the special device he uses...

      According to his comments on the thread in the story "theres (sic) no way to have the walk forward on a mouse button".

      I have run into this myself with Grand Theft Auto 4 and the Home key. I use the 7 / Home key on the number pad for left turns on all my games (Crysis, Fallout, GTA III, Battlefield 1943, Metro 2033, etc.). GTA 4 will not let you use it because Games for Windows Live (Which I do not even want on my machine) keeps that key for itself. Even if you remap GFWL to Alt-Home you still cannot use Home.

      I am with Gareth on this one. He has enough to deal with without unimaginative game companies getting in the way of his entertainment. The "we know better than you what you really want" attitude is too prevalent in the industry.

    12. GeorgeTuk

      Same sentiment here.

      Took a long time for subtitling to be a more recognised standard in games I couldn't play adventure games for years when they went voice only for a while even now its a bit patchy, like Halo: Reach subtitles appeared randomly in some sections and not in others so I missed some bits but that's Bungie so a different company.

      It seems strange of all the companies to pick on EA, why EA in particular? Just because of Dead Space. Would be better to do an industry wide letter that could be signed and sent to many, it would certainly carry more weight. Too many will sign this just to hate at EA which misses the point.

      Sometimes they don't even realise, like More4 hadn't realised they had an issue with subtitles until a few of use wrote a feedback letter on their website, notice feedback and not complaint.

    13. Renato

      Re: What about the device maker?

      >I'm not unsympathetic to his needs, but why is this an obligation of the individual game makers instead of a hardware issue for the console and controller makers.

      Perhaps because plays on a PC, which probably is because many games allow control remapping and/or the mouse is the device he learned how to use?

    14. RJ

      Because the game must support it

      We used to get keyboard remapping for free in practically every PC game....remember those days? Now that half of them are console ports we seem to have forgotten that.

      Programming a game to allow input remapping is not difficult and will benefit many people apart from those who need it due to disabilities.

      Regarding special inputs. Let me see, it would require expensive custom hardware (I doubt the market is very big) plus a software layer sitting between the OS and the Game to intercept commands and change them to what the game expects.

      So you would have to create profiles for every game.

      And on a more technical note, which I am not entirely familiar with. How would anti-cheating mechanisms react to an application intercepting game inputs?

      There are so many problems with doing it outside of the game that I think it is worth asking the game devs to pull their fingers out and add a simple feature in the game layer where it belongs.

    15. Anonymous Coward

      re: What about the device maker?

      What about him? Games have controller maps anyway, why not just make them readily editable, so the controller preferences for each game are part of the game rather than part of the controller? It's a simple software mod that costs nothing in terms of performance and avoids hardware complexity.

    16. Neoc


      Agreed. I am myopic - and yet everybody would scoff if I demanded that the Government make road-signs bigger (and make pedestrians wear fluoro jackets) so that I can drive my car. Instead, I wear glasses.

      Ditto in this case - yes, there are times when things need to be changed but where do you draw the line? At some point, it becomes too expensive (and expansive) to change items/products to suit *everyone* - you need to get the individuals to realise that they are, well, individuals. Which is why you get "may contain nuts" warning on packaging instead of requiring manufacturers to completely sanitise their equipment between runs. Not everything needs to be reduced to (if you'll excuse the term) the lowest common denominator. (actually, I think I read a sci-fi short story on that theme... wasn't pretty)

      And yes, I fully expect to be shouted down for this post.

      1. Brezin Bardout


        'Agreed. I am myopic - and yet everybody would scoff if I demanded that the Government make road-signs bigger (and make pedestrians wear fluoro jackets) so that I can drive my car. Instead, I wear glasses.'

        As does he. So he can play games, he uses a customisable mouse.

        The problem is EA's lack of basic accessibility regarding key mapping. Something that, disregarding lazy console ports, is (or at least was) pretty standard within PC gaming.

        It's not even just an accessibility issue for those with disabilities. It's a usability issue for anyone who expects to be able to remap controls in this kind of way, of which I'm pretty certain he won't be the only one.

  2. tom 24


    Speaking as a non-disabled gamer, I agree! With modern consoles that are basically special-purpose gaming computers, the 20-year-old console paradigm of hard-coding one or two control schemes is lame.

  3. Leeroy Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    Device Maker ?

    It seems to me that his control device works just fine and he has a very valid point about the developer allowing him to customise the input method to suit his needs !

    The device maker can only do so much if the developer has hard coded the input method, eg Xbox gaming pad only or no mouse support.

  4. bexley

    mind control

    He's not being unreasonable about it, he's asking them, not demanding it.

    I thought i saw a kind of mind control computer interface in TV a few years ago, i guess it does not work very well since it's not on the market yet.

    Ahh, here it is

    wonder if he can get a demo headset

    I see nothing wrong with this guy asking and think if the developers would bear disabilities in mind when ... well, developing games and consoles then the tech might move fast


  5. Ravenger

    He's got a point

    The problem he's having is that the control binding screen is needlessly restrictive. It won't allow you to, for example, bind 'run' to mouse button 1. The best PC games allow you to bind any function to any button or key, mouse button, or joystick button/Axis.

    I'm left handed and like most left handed PC gamers I use the arrow keys for movement. I had a very similar issue with the original Dead Space where the game won't let you re-bind the arrow keys, which is something all my other PC games let me do. i had to resort to hacking the game's config file to use those keys.

    The thing is the game code itself actually supported using the arrow keys for movement, but the control input screen wouldn't let you re-bind them. There was no logical reason for the restriction. It just seemed like the game wasn't designed with left-handed gamers in mind, so I can easily see his point of view as what he's complaining about has affected me too, though obviously to a lesser degree.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Control customisation: Yes.

    I'm not disabled, I just don't see why I should waste my effort fighting the manufacturer's sucky keyboard layout instead of fighting giant robots. Or werewolves. Or whatever.

    Also, if the only way to choose which spell to cast is to scroll through a long list while under attack by razor fanged dickwolves then you need to sack your interface designer and your momma smells. kthxbai

  7. David Neil

    Not quite that simple

    Whilst a device could be configured to mimic various control options, not all games allow any flexibility in remapping controls or altering how sensitive the inputs are. Looking at the issue Gareth has he is asking for the ability to remap a basic character movement to a mouse button, and it seems this was raised as an issue in Dead Space 1, and a fix was implied, if not actually promosed, for Dead Space 2.

    Going further, look at the hissy fit being thrown over the XIM3 device for the 360, that allows you to use keyboard and mouse devices to send input to the console.

    The device itself will not allow you to send control inputs in excess of what a standard controller will allow, so turning in a game still takes the same amount of time for example, but it is still regarded as cheating by some. No doubt somewhere a whiny git will complain that Gareth is gaining an unfair advantage if he starts handing out regular arse whippings.

  8. Clive Galway

    PC controls

    C'mon, many people who plays PC versions of most console ports will tell you that there is a problem here... The other big offenders are often "Games for Windows" games.

    IIRC, the latest GTA game wouldn't even let you use a HID compliant controller, so it was either an XBOX joypad (Or XBOX steering wheel) or nothing.

    I kind of sympathise with the above comment ("What about the device maker?") but think that it shouldn't be the device maker, but a responsibility of the OS. MS made a great advance with the HID compliant system in the past, so it should extend the idea and let you remap HID controller mappings on a per-application basis.

    Having said that, there would still need to be effort from the game manufacturers. For example, many games do not allow you to map an analogue input method to an analogue scale (eg allowing analogue handbrake in many racing games is not common) so that needs sorting out too.

    I suppose apart from disabled people, there are probably not that many people who care too much, but for me I hate the interface to ruin a game. If I have to stop playing to look at the keyboard to find a key - that's game over to me. Hell, even moving my fingers from WSAD to hit 1,2,3,4 or something annoys the hell out of me. That's why I use XMouse ( to program mouse wheel u/d/l/r to 1,2,3,4 (you need a tilting wheel.) Great for battlefield - all 4 weapons / gadgets available through one roll or tilt of the mouse wheel ;)

  9. Leona A
    Thumb Down

    Good luck with that,

    as developers don't do accessibility on any platform, it cramps their style. As it doesn't affect them, they couldn't get a rats behind.

  10. Citizen Kaned

    my 2p

    fair play to the guy, i was impressed on how he has such control.

    i find it annoying in console games we cannot remap stuff. most pc games still can, so why limit consoles?

    same issue with the new killzone3 game using ps move (its not bad actually, just a few tweaks and finally fps on consoles are a goer - mainly melee and fixing cursor in the center of the screen). left handers seem to be having issues and would like things swapped around

    hasnt this guy looked at the gadget that lets you map ps keys to a keyboard? if he can do that maybe he can remap the keys to him mouse?

    i think someone in the modding community could make soem form of device that can configure all keys to any button - surely wouldnt be that complex for someone with a reasonable knowledge of home electronics. i certainly knew people easily capable of doing it.

    maybe he would be better playing pc games anyway - as they have much more flexibility usually? (and cheaper games). to be honest im not sure 100% if he is using a console or pc. dont a lot of games have user downloadable config apps to let people change many aspects of the game?

    @"EA are terrible at writing control customisation code. Case in point...when I bought BF2142 and found that it didn't save my mouse button customisations I complained...only to be told that 'its been that way since the first Battlefield game'...WTF?! EA really need to get themselves some programmers that actually know how to program" - yeah on bf games you are better to reassign the mouse buttons to keyboard buttons in the mouse configs. works that way. stuff like windows5/6/7 never seem to save, but if you change those buttons to shift/ctrl etc they work fine.

    EA arent always bad - fifa can remap almost everything to different keys - handy for those of us coming from PES. even swap analogue for digital movement etc

  11. Ben Rosenthal

    totally agree

    I'm as able bodied as you can get, but I still often want to re-map controls for a variety of different reasons.

    Why, when consoles are ever more powerful and PC like, are we being dumbed down to match them, rather than them stepping up to match the fuller features and customisation levels expected by the PC crowd?

    Seems like a waste of hardware when they generally have mass storage and multiple connectivity options.

  12. Squiggle


    I don't believe he demanded, he didn't even start the petition ... !

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Overcockers Forum Drives Me Mad

      So the guy in the video didn't even start the petition..? Ha - why doesn't that surprise me!

      I remember when someone on their forum started a thread about his sick daughter not getting help on the NHS as quickly as he wanted. Before you knew it, one of the moderators started taking donations to get things speedied up. Soon many thousands of pounds had been donated by users on the forum under the belief it would help to bump his daughter up the waiting list.

      The guy whose daughter was ill never asked for donations and he had pointed out that the delays had nothing to do with money but was down to the availability of the doctors and specialists. If I remember correctly he ended up using the money to buy a satnav, some tyres for his cars and a dog. Can't say I blame him, as he wasn't the one to ask OCUK users to hand over their cash.

      As for this case... I appreciate it must be annoying for the guy in the video, and I'm impressed at what he has able to achieve with some games, but where do you draw the line? Is it really worth the investment in time and money for something that only a handful of users (or possibly only one user) will ever benefit from? I hear that the 20 or so people in the world who still speak Votic - the language spoken by the Votes of Ingria - are keen to get a petition started to have all video games written in their language. Unfortunately their petition is written in Votic, and I don't think the OCUK moderators can understand it.

      Why do the users on Overclockers forums - I'm looking at you, OCUK moderators - have to always be on some sort of crusade? And why do they have to do it so backwardly-arsed? And why can't they do it for something that will benefit more than just one person at a time?

      Frankly it's enough to make me vomit all over my shoe let alone my keyboard. I fully expect to get down voted for this, but I wonder whether those who do so are thinking rationally or just got carried away after watching a YouTube video of a kid in a wheelchair play some games?

  13. squilookle

    I agree

    I play games (Wii and Xbox 360) and I have no fingers on my right hand. I run into difficulties every so often, especially with shoulder buttons on the right hand side of a controller.

    I have managed to play certain Wii games (Twilight Princess, GoldenEye) by tying the nunchuck and the Wii remote together using the wrist strap.

    I play Black Ops on the Xbox using the Lefty button layout, Southpaw stick layout. (I ADS with my right knee). This arrangement is usable, but I could be faster if I could remap the buttons any way I want.

    On the subject of EA, I was very impressed to see that the button layout on Need For Speed Hot Pursuit can be customised, but in general, I do find there are too many games that don't give this option.

    As a Zelda fan, I'm concerned I'm going to struggle with Skyward Sword when it comes out. I'll have to see what options it has and then see what I can think of. If I can't think of anything, I won't buy it.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: I have no fingers on my right hand


  14. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Just signed the petition and i'm number 24622 =]

  15. Citizen Kaned
    Thumb Up


    we are getting somewhere. JHeaton is modifying a mouse to do what he needs it to do :)

    i guess only certain mice have buttons that are raised enough for him to get some purchase on.

    stuff like this really makes my day!

  16. Steve Crook

    Remap yourself?

    Actually, I found it easier to remap myself than to continually remapping things in the UI. I spent a period where I was sharing keyboards and mice with righties (in the olden days when workstations were rare and expensive), and it just became easier to do things right handed.

    It was a pain at the start, but only took a week to get used to it, and I've been using a mouse right handed ever since. It's actually quite 'handy' because I can type quite quickly using my left, and continue to operate my mouse with my right.

    I wouldn't dream of switching back.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: Remap yourself?

      Miss the point much?

  17. geekclick
    Thumb Up

    Read, agreed, signed the petition!

    "The post is required, and must contain letters."

    24711 :)

  18. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Easy accomodation that improves the game for everyone

    @Neoc, regarding "I am myopic - and yet everybody would scoff if I demanded that the Government make road-signs bigger (and make pedestrians wear fluoro jackets) so that I can drive my car. Instead, I wear glasses. Ditto in this case - yes, there are times when things need to be changed but where do you draw the line? "

    This really isn't like expecting to replace signs with bigger ones instead of wearing glasses*. I really don't think it's too much to ask to allow each game to allow it's controls to be mapped to whatever key, mouse or joystick action the user wants. I haven't ran many new games, but a while back every game had this functionality, and it would have been a game defect if it didn't. He's not asking for something like custom support for his controller, he's asking for functionality that every PC game should have. A few years back, the gamer didn't have to learn new controls for every game if they didn't want to, they'd remap the game to the controls they were most comfortable with (and have to get used to perhaps a few extra keys for special functions.) He's honestly not asking for changes that should be heavily invasive to the game design, the key and mouse input likely all comes in though an input layer within the game anyway (and, if in fact it's a port from a console, the game probably assumes some game pad buttons or the like, so even the key remapping code probably exists within the game already.)

    *Side note. When I was in Florida, I did in fact notice the road signs, especially speed limit and stop signs, were VERY VERY large. I think it actually was to accomodate all these old codgers that should be off the road but still drive down there.

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