Microsoft Kinect FAIL For Gamers Who Use Wheelchairs

Jan 04, 2011
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Microsoft’s wildly popular Kinect gaming system could have changed the game for players who have disabilities such as cerebral palsy and would otherwise be unable to use a gaming controller. But Microsoft dropped the ball on this one.

The Microsoft Kinect device responds to how you move — your hand can be the controller. But the Xbox 360 motion sensor device is a complete FAIL for any person seated in a wheelchair.  Microsoft developed Kinect so that only people who are standing are recognized by the full-body motion-control system.

Susanna Martini has cerebral palsy and her family Christmas present was the Kinect gaming system. Susanna said she couldn’t wait to play the Kinect XBox 360 controller-free games with her husband and 3-year old daughter. However, as reported by KomoNews, Susanna went from wildly excited to really disappointed. She said, “Kinect has no clue that I even exist, it’s like I’m completely invisible to it.”

Microsoft’s PR quickly issued the following statement: “The initial wave of Kinect games were designed to be very active to take advantage of the sensor’s ability to track full-body motion, and as a result, may be difficult or simply not possible to play in a seated position. We’re working to improve Kinect’s skeletal tracking technology in ways that will help developers create games that incorporate seated play.”

Susanna said she didn’t expect to be able to play soccer on the Kinect, “but I want to be able to play one game.” As Kinect is now, Susanna is completely left out when her family plays.

Prior to Kinect’s release, it was discovered that players with black skin had trouble being recognized by Microsoft’s facial recognition element in the device. Some people might wonder if Kinect was primarily created for white-skinned people who can stand and dance.

Microsoft also wanted to point out that “seated users can enjoy controller-free entertainment features like ESPN on XBox Live, Zune, and Video Kinect.” Wow, seriously Microsoft? That is super weak. There are thousands of gamers who use wheelchairs. Does Microsoft really think watching someone on ESPN is the same as playing a game? Maybe it does since it made Kinect so that gamers in wheelchairs can only be spectators there too.

As a mother of gamer who happens to need a wheelchair full-time to get around, I’m really aggravated at Microsoft. A wheelchair may be her seat but it is also her legs and how she walks. Thanks so very much Microsoft for look of utter disappointment on her face when she too was not recognized by the Kinect and was instead forced to be an onlooker and a virtual outsider among her gaming friends. So what if she was raised to participate in life instead of being merely a spectator…?

I hope lots of people “yell” about this issue as Microsoft needs to rectify this discriminating oversight immediately. Microsoft is a major player and it should be ashamed.

Author: Tessa



  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry bud, I’m a para in a chair and common sense told me I wouldn’t be able to use it…what with all the adds showing people STANDING, WALKING, and MOVING body parts I can’t. And you know what? Life goes on, lol. Is it discrimination to moves Microsoft to sell xboxs with standard controls that quads have a hard time using? If you say yes, you really are dumb.

    Sounds like youre not very comfortable in your own skin…blaming others doesn’t make you any more able bodied, sorry to tell you that.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, some one with common sense finnaly.

  • Anonymous

    Not if they don’t have arms…..or can’t use their arms at least. People just like to complain I think.

  • This2

    Nobody is blaming their disability on Microsoft. you’re an asshole. I’m not disabled but I think all you people who sit at home at your computers are unable to have empathy. Get out and get laid. At least these wheelchair people are capable of feeling unlike you.

  • Devrieparadowski

    I broke my ankle, which is obviously a temporary situation, and am dissappointed; however, I DID play “Just Dance 3″ on Kinect, and have to say…it seems to have picked me up.  When I get the arm moves correct I get good scores, only…I was on an office chair and could not do some of the turns, but wheel chair users shouldn’t experience too many difficulties.  So…I think you CAN play some games with Kinect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Paganheart666 Laura Foster

    I feel for you i have been in a wheelchair since birth i am going to be 25 years old this year. The one major thing people forget is 70% of the human race is able bodied but approximately 30% of either born disabled or made disabled through accidents in life so disablilty is on a major increase. my disablilty was very rare 20 years ago but now you see it everywhere in every country…..so anyone who buys a Kinect and are able bodied is at risk of losing a lot of money if and only if they become a victim of an accident that leaves them completely wheelchair bound…..plus im a big believer of Karma so anyone who is blinded by ignorance at this article best watch themselves because who knows, they may just have a taste of what it is like to be victimised as a disabled person, to be excluded, treated as a Taboo in the community, or worse……and believe me i know worse but thats something else entirely