Importing Japanese Accessible Game Controllers: Buyee

Image of a HORI Separate controller advert in Japanese. Yahoo's Japanese Auction site is the eBay of Japan, and a fertile source of obscure controllers. It's the place that I first discovered the HORI Separate controller pictured above, and my first port of call when trying to track down the super-rare ASCII Grip V2 controllers.

So, in the spirit of sharing, this is my advice for those wanting to track down rare Japanese accessible controllers:

2017 Update: Try Buyee: ASCII Grip V2, HORI Separate Controller and HORI SRWC. This offers an alternative to the system I've long used below.

1. Install Google's web browser toolbar, then enable the "Translate" tool. This will help you to get a rough translation of auction item quality in English-ish.
2. Set up a PayPal account.
3. Set up a Japanese Auction Agency (JAA) account. JAA will bid on items on your behalf, deal with the seller, receive the item, the repackage and send to your address. I highly recommend this helpful and professional company.
4. Have a mooch around Yahoo Auctions Japan. Copy and paste the following Kanji into the Yahoo Auctions search text box to further assist: Ascii/Sammy Grip V2 (グリップV2); HORI Super Robot Wars (スーパーロボット大戦コントローラ); HORI Separate Controller (セパレートコントローラ); HORI Fighting Stick (ファイティングスティック). Alternatively you may find stuff on your local Amazon.
5. If you find something you like, and can afford (use http://www.xe.com/ for a currency conversion) go back to your JAA account, make a deposit, then carefully step through their auction buying service.

Bare in mind that a lot of Japanese sellers seem to go for short auctions of 3 to 5 days, so check regularly if you are keen. Also take into account any additional customs charges you may incur if the item is expensive. Good luck!

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Xbox One Co-Pilot Accessibility Feature

Image of a white controller, with text to the left reading Xbox Wireless Controller with five selectable boxes: Update, Assignation, Volume, Buzz and Turn on Co-Pilot.

Reads "Select the controller that your co-pilot will use".

Two white Xbox One controllers.

Had my first chance to play quickly with the Xbox One "Co-Pilot" feature today. It enables two wired or wireless Xbox controllers to be used together simultaneously both acting the same as one another.

It's a great boost for a number of accessibility uses, as well as the obvious one of two people playing a one-player game together. It would benefit from some more user-definable options (e.g. sensitivity of the analogue controls and remapping). It would also benefit from an on-screen test utility, so you can see what your controls do, and that they're all working, thinking of people using custom controllers.

It's due to be rolled out soon (I hope) for all Xbox One users. Really fantastic to see Microsoft slowly improving the access of their games console in this way. Hugely impressed.

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Waves

A planet with wonkey band around it surrounded by concentric circles starting from deep purple, ending as lime green.


The recent Global Game Jam for 2017 turned up 385 games that are under the "Spaced" diversifier. What that means is a whole ton of people have been making and thinking about one-switch accessible games.

The games had to follow the theme of "Waves". I haven't had a chance to pore through many of them, but there's bound to be one or two gems in there. I'll hope to find some time to share some of the better ones.

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Dear Telltale Games....

Image of two people, large subtitles and tiny dialogue text options, rendering the game inaccessible for many.

Tiny icons in Telltale Games Walking Dead.

I really like your style of games, but there's a few really easy to fix accessibility issues, that are a massive barrier as they stand.

1. Tiny text, tiny icons and pointless closed-captions size options: I can't read or see what options you're giving me since the latest engine build (on PS4), unless I sit close to my screen. And as you can see in the top picture, selecting large closed-captions is rendered utterly pointless when you can't actually read the dialogue options because "large text" is not applied across the board.

2. Button mashing: If you could offer an accessibility option to replace the QTE/Track and Field button mashing with something easier (aka possible), it would open the game up for many more.

3. Time: An accessibility option to give the player much longer to respond would take into account those with slower reading speeds (many reasons for this) or for those using slower input devices.

Telltale games are great if you can play them, but I'd say for too many, the games are unnecessarily inaccessible. It would take so little to fix this. I really hope you won't turn away from implementing these basic improvements. 

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P3 CONTROLLER PIN-OUT

White dual-shock looking controller with "P3" where the Sony Playstation button would normally be.

PCB with pin-out pointers.

The "P3" marked Playstation 3 controller above is another controller that is easy to add switch sockets to. Click on the PCB picture above for a bigger view.

1 = TRIANGLE
2 = CIRCLE
3 = CROSS
4 = SQUARE

5 (or ADC) = GND

7 ("24") = START
8 = ("26") = SELECT

11 = D-PAD DOWN
12 = D-PAD LEFT
13 = D-PAD RIGHT
14 = D-PAD UP

"L1", "L2", "R1" and "R2" all marked on the PCB.

R3 and L3 = use both contacts on the underside of the stick push-button. Don't use the 5/ADC for the ground/common connector for these.


To lighten sticks, use the following method. Straighten thumb-stick legs from underneath using a plectrum/plastic implement (e.g. phone repair tool). Desolder using desoldering braid and a desoldering gun. This is tricky. You may need to go back and add fresh solder, then attempt to desolder again, wobbling the legs a bit as you go.

Lever the sticks off carefully, open them from underneath, then fit lighter springs (e.g. "RS Pro Stainless Steel Compression Spring, 34.1mm x 3.45mm, 0.06N/mm" - code 821-251) cut to the same length as the original springs. Put back together onto the board and re-solder. Good luck! More help at the OneSwitch DIY index. To support game accessibility please consider donating to SpecialEffect.




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HORIPAD FPS PLUS (PS3/PS4) PCB PIN-OUT

HORIPAD FPS PLUS PS3 PS4 controller

HORIPAD FPS PLUS PS3 PS4 controller PCB pinout guide for the shapes side.

HORIPAD FPS PLUS PS3 PS4 controller - PCB pinout guide.

The HORIPAD FPS Plus controller (found via Ben Heck) is a very easy to adapt controller for PS3 and PS4. Using an appropriate adapter, it should be easy to get working on other machines too. The following advice should help with switch adaptations and this guide should help with lightening the thumb-sticks. For information, this is a wired only controller with no rumble-motors.

JP3 = GROUND/Common for the following:

BD(OWN) = CROSS / A / 1
BR(IGHT) = CIRCLE / B / 2
BL(EFT) = SQUARE / X / 3
BU(P) = TRIANGLE / Y / 4
R1 / RB
R2 / RT
L1 / LB
L2 / LT


GND (BOTTOM RIGHT) for the remainder:

OPTION / START / MENU
SHARE / SELECT / BACK / VIEW
L3 / LS
R3 / RS
TAR = (REAR TARGET BUTTON)
TAPD = TOUCH-PAD


HORIPAD FPS PLUS PS3 PS4 controller - PCB pinout guide. Click for large image.


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Recent Custom Controllers

PS4 controller adapted for accessibility with grip mounted buttons.

Teensy 2.0++ Switch Interface - box with switch sockets.

Adapted Xbox 360 Tentacular controller with external mini-joysticks.

Xbox One with inner "B" button for better accessibility.

Adapted controller completing Gav Tan work.

Xbox One with plugin switch interface for better game access.

PS4 game accessibility adaptation, with 7 switch socket box.

PS3 Split fish wireless controller with Brook PS3 to PS4 adapter.

Shaz Hossain designed OneSwitch mini-joystick box.

Xbox One chopped controller.

It's been a busy time recently building controllers for SpecialEffect and OneSwitch. Some definitely better than others. Credit where due, the white controller was mostly by Gav Tan which I finished off. The 3D printed housing was by Shaz Hossain. Most recently, set-up a controller that enabled a single thumb-stick, smart-nav, switch and voice to get better control over a PS4 to play race games, Pure Pool and the like. Pretty chuffed with that one. More to follow.

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Game Accessibility Conference 2017

Reads hash-tag G.A. Conf. Advancing accessibility for gamers with disabilities. I.G.D.A. International Game Developers' Association. Game Accessibility Special Interest Group.

GAConf 2017 is a day of talks and networking exploring recent and future advancements in the field of game accessibility. Updates, case studies, and in-depth guides.

Covering a wide range of topics, such as accessibility as a micro-indie, designing for older gamers, blind gaming, Uncharted 4's accessibility features, and the challenges of retrofitting accessibility into a live product. Latest updates on Twitter and a full-break down of the day planned here.

Mon, February 27, 2017
9:00 AM – 6:00 PM PST

The History of Special Needs Technology in the UK

Two children using a TRS-80 concept keyboard to type fully formed words on a green-screen monitor. A blocky picture of a dog above a line, with the text here is, is displayed.

Tomorrow at the BETT show at the ExCel London in the Learn Live: SEN area (C438 near entrance N9), Open University Professor, Jane Seale will be presenting...

Learning from our histories: What can we draw from the experiences of experts in the field of special needs and technology that can inform our future practice?

Between 10:30 and 11 Jane will draw on examples from interviews she has conducted with 45 experts who have worked in the field of SEN and technology from the 1970's onwards. She will use the examples to discuss what we can learn from these histories to inform future practice.

You can follow this fascinating project at Jane's blog, "The History of Special Needs Technology in the UK".


An outline of a red bulb, with black text reading, "Brilliant Computing 1987 Catalogue. Switches, adaptors and computer software for the BBC Micro computer for special needs. PO Box 142, Bradford, BD3 0JN.

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Xbox One Co-Pilot Accessibility Feature

Co-Pilots Han-Solo and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon - going int hyper-drive with stars all around them. Representing the Xbox One feature Co-Pilot to make gaming more accessible.

Exciting game accessibility news from David Dzumba at Microsoft, in the tentative partial launch of the Co-Pilot feature. This is the blurb:

"Enabling Xbox One to be accessible for everyone: One important area for us with this release is to enable Xbox One to be able to be used and played by everyone. Take for instance our new Copilot feature which allows two controllers to act as if they were one. This will help make Xbox One more inviting to new gamers needing assistance, more fun by adding cooperative controls for any game and easier for players who need unique configurations to play — whether that is with hands apart, hand and chin, hand and foot, etc.. We are also adding new enhancements to Magnifier and Narrator, as well as giving more options over audio output and custom rumble settings on a controller, which was previously reserved for the Xbox Elite Controller. You can find these accessibility options, and more, in Settings and Ease of Access."

As well as the benefits of using two standard Xbox One controllers, it should also be possible to:

• Use one or two modified Xbox One controllers, using the likes of remapper flexi-pcbs.
• Use a standard controller alongside a non Xbox One controller using an adapter including the super-powerful Titan One.
• Mix all of this together.


"Check out accessibility news in this! "First Wave of New Xbox Update Features Ship to Select Xbox Insiders Today."


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