Kinect, launched last fall, has been dubbed a gaming game-changer. And for some youngsters who've never been able to play games before, it's been a life-changer. In other words, Kinect's controller-free gaming is helping children with disabilities play video games for the first time.
Avri Davis (left) plays Kinect with a friend.
"By eliminating the controller, Kinect has removed a barrier for some people with mobility and coordination difficulties. Among them is Avri Davis. Although the 14-year-old is the oldest of six children, she's never been able to keep up with her siblings. Avri was born with hydrocephalus, a situation where excess fluid puts pressure on her brain. So when the family unwrapped a Kinect on Christmas morning and started to play, Avri hung back like usual. Then her mom urged her to give it a try. She watched for a while, and then before long she joined in and was fighting for her turn like everyone else," Katie Avri's mother said.
Microsoft says, they've been hearing similar stories to Avri's, where Kinect is making play possible for youngsters who had once been left out, said Alisha Mark, global public relations manager for Xbox.
Todd Rosen, an optimized desktop specialist in Microsoft's New York City office, started hearing some of these stories just days after Kinect launched. When he read an article about a child with autism using Kinect, he knew he had to get one. Like the boy in the article, Rosen's children had struggled to play games. His 12-year-old son, Matthew, has autism, and his 5-year-old daughter, Sarah, has cerebral palsy.
Matthew Rosen's autism made it difficult for him to use a video game controller.
In no time at all, both Matthew and Sarah were playing games on the Xbox 360.
"It was the most amazing thing," Rosen revealed. "I've never seen him smile in front of a video game. He always looked confused or puzzled. But he was playing. The other kids were watching him, not helping him."
Sarah Rosen, 5, struggled to play video games because of mobility
issues caused by cerebral palsy.
As Sarah watched her brother, she wanted to join in, too. So Rosen pushed her wheelchair in front of the TV. "All of a sudden Kinect picked her up, and it doesn't recognize that she's in a wheelchair but shows her as a shorter person," he said. "Instantly she's beyond excited, her hands and arms are flailing, and she's doing stuff in the game."
Rosen moved Sarah into a dining room chair so she could swing her legs. She wound up playing until she fell asleep. When she woke up the next day, the first thing she wanted to do was play Kinect.
[Source: Microsoft Press]