The Xbox Adaptive Controller

Xbox Adaptive Controller wins top design prize at D&AD Festival

The Xbox Adaptive Controller has won one of the world’s top design awards during an event in the UK.

The device, which makes it easier for people with limited mobility to play videogames, was awarded the prestigious Black Pencil in the Product Design category at the D&AD Festival in London on Thursday night.

According to the organisers of the globally recognised craft and creativity event, the Black Pencil “is reserved for work that is truly groundbreaking in its field. It is the highest accolade there is to offer.” Only a handful are awarded each year, if at all.

“It’s an honour and privilege to receive the D&AD Black Pencil,” said Evelyn Thomas, a Program Manager at Xbox. “It’s a product that was designed with inclusivity at the heart and was formed through collaborations with amazing partners and individuals. We continue to be moved by the recognition it has received, helping it to stand out as a true first-of-its-kind – in gaming and beyond.”

The Xbox Adaptive Controller was released in September last year and allows gamers to connect to external buttons, switches, mounts and joysticks – giving gamers with limited mobility an easy-to-set-up and readily available way to play Xbox One or Windows 10 games.

Jasmin Sohi, Accessories Category Manager; Elliott Hsu, Senior Industrial Designer; and Steven Woodgate, MArketing and Communications Manager

Jasmin Sohi, Accessories Category Manager; Elliott Hsu, Senior Industrial Designer; and Steven Woodgate, Marketing and Communications Manager, with the Black Pencil

There are around a billion people across the world with a disability, including 13.9 million people in the UK. Research from Muscular Dystrophy UK found that one-in-three of the young disabled people they represent has been forced to stop playing videogames due to their disability.

UK charities welcomed the device, as well as its packaging, which has been specially designed to be opened by gamers with limited mobility. The controller has received widespread praise, won a Golden Joystick Award and been included in a gallery devoted to groundbreaking design at the V&A museum in London.

People could try out the controller on the Microsoft stand at the D&AD Festival. The annual, three-day event is now in its 57th year and features keynotes, fireside chats, workshops and masterclasses from the world of advertising, art, design, fashion, film and more. This year, speakers included director Danny Boyle, musician Professor Green and presenter Lauren Laverne.

Tim Lindsay, D&AD Chief Executive, said: “Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is a great example of a company taking accessibility seriously on a massive scale. The Controller embodies how important it is to design accessibility from the start rather than adapting products as an after-thought.

“Microsoft is making a generous contribution not just to gamers, but innovators of all kinds who will use is as a tool to evolve interaction design in ways we can’t even imagine yet. Genuine and meaningful leadership from the brand.”