Petition Seeks Ability to Remap Controller Functions for the Disabled

A quadriplegic has started an online petition in the hopes of persuading console manufacturers and game makers to eventually allow gamers to remap controller setups.

Kotaku points us towards the story of Chuck Bittner (pictured with the Frag Dolls), who broke his neck in a car accident and now suffers from total paralysis of his legs and partial paralysis of his arms. Bittner, who calls himself a “capper,” (short for handicapped), currently plays games using his limited arm movements and his chin and mouth.

Among his complaints/suggestions, “R1 and L1 are too far apart, no remap = no sighting up, no sight = no kill,” and “a ‘sight up’ lock option would be awesome Mr. Zampella!”

Bittner’s petition presents a pair of options:

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.

A video of Bittner playing through Modern Warfare 2 can be viewed in the Kotaku article. Bittner, who is also a comedian, claims that his current kill/death ratio in MW2 is .90, not too shabby!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ya MS doing a frim ware up date to allow for mapping customization even could take statics on it and such and control it on some online games…if they feel the need to be so controlling… hell with the user accounts and system access while playing a game its very doable….

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! CP/IP laws should not effect the daily life of common people!

  2. MechaTama31 says:

    Option 2 is actually a damn good idea.  It would be mush easier and simpler for three companies to add this capability at the system level of the console, rather than relying on the myriad of developers.

  3. Chris Kimberley says:

    Am I saying it’s impossible?  No, I’m not.  Just that it’s more difficult and involved than it seems to be on the surface.

    There may not ba a HD, or memory card to save to.  There may not be an online account.  There may not be a network cable plugged in.  Even if there are the last two, there are restrictions on how often you can read from/write to those servers, as well as restrictions on how much space you get.

    Often you do need to bug test the way I’m describing.  Please note I am a professional game developer so I actually do know what I’m talking about.  If I were to yell right now our entire QA department would look up from their desks.  Sometimes (often actually) there are weird combinations of events/inputs/whatever that do bad things.  If you don’t have adequate testing coverage you can’t be sure of anything.

    MS/Sony/Nintendo could simply say to developers "you must do this" and it would happen.  But they wont.  They could put in system level remapping which would be transparent to all developers (there are some difficulties for analog/digital crossover (especially for Sony), but it’s doable).  But they wont.  Here’s why.  People will keep buying games anyway.  They’ll bitch about it.  But they’ll pay.

    That’s why universal button mapping is not a must.  It would be great to have from a gamer’s point of view.  But it wont happen because it would cost more to do than it would make back as a selling feature.  The best you can reasonably hope for is more standardized controls.  Left stick moves, right stick aims, etc.


    Chris Kimberley

  4. ZippyDSMlee says:

    So you are saying a standardized mapping setup that can be easily injected into game code made by MS for MS games(non for non,sony for sony) that allows for complete remapping is imposable? Also it can be saved on the HD or memory card or even the online account taking up whole Kb’s of space if that….. also they don;t bug test like you think they bug test stuff ….least anymore they don’t 😛


    Sorry but universal button mapping is a must, I am learning disabled and relearning the nuances of some games is so fcking time consuming I have beat the game but still have not gotten use to it enough to enjoy it…..

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! CP/IP laws should not effect the daily life of common people!

  5. Chris Kimberley says:

    There are some other considerations (some techincal, some business).

    – A 360 doesn’t have built in storage by default.  So you can’t always just save the user’s configuration somewhere.

    – It adds an extra layer of indirection between pushing a button and getting the result on screen.  Considering how hard we have to work to optimize games even adding that is a performance consideration.

    – You have to test the game with every set up you can think of/is possible to make sure that they all work.

    – It takes time to develop and test the menu support for this.  Again you have to test every possible configuration.

    Even a simple feature like button mapping has costs associated with it that aren’t obvious.  I’m not saying they can be dealt with, but they are there.

    As for left handed controllers, I think that’s silly.  And I’m left-handed.  We tend to be closer to ambidexterity than other people are so I really don’t think it’s a detriment at all.  It’s bugged me for some DS games that use the stylus, but those all had an option to swap to left-handed… not perfect but good enough.  3rd party hardware manufacturers could always make left handed controllers as well.

    The real problem I see with a lot of games is colourblindness.  A significant part of the population (somewhere around 30% for males I think) is red-green colourblind.  Yet so many games still have tons of stuff in the game that you can only tell apart by colour.  I know of a guy who had to be talked through a boss fight because he couldn’t tell what to shoot.  It was highlighted in green while the wrong places to shoot were red.


    Chris Kimberley

  6. Kojiro says:

    I second this.  Even for non-disabled people!  Speaking from experience, this is a rather simple feature to implement and every time I see a game that doesn’t allow it I think "lazy devs!"

  7. Father Time says:

    Wait a minute some guy complaining about games/the game industry and starting an online petition … that I actually agree with? Dear God what’s the world coming to.

    I’m honestly surprised this isn’t a standard feature in console games by now, I mean sure the default control schemes usually work pretty well but come on sometimes you’re just used to say the reload button being in a certain place.


    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  8. tallimar says:

    um, no… they don’t really have a _duty_ to add button mapping, but they should have an _interesst_ in doing so for all of the previously mentioned reasons.

  9. Frommonday says:

    I agree, to a point.

    Developers and console manufacturers have a duty to ensure that every customer can use their consoles, and the ability to universally alter controls would be a long step towards that. In theory, these days, there’s nothing preventing developers from allowing users to map things. It’s a relatively simple engine tweak.

    As for the person complaining about the lack of left-handed controllers, on that point I have to disagree. Statistically, lefties make up 10% of the population. Because videogaming requires dexterity in BOTH hands, the majority of users don’t have a significant advantage over players based on their hand orientation. A righty might be a little quicker on the trigger, but a lefty is probably quicker to move out of the way.

    I’ve found that switching makes no difference, to me. Whether I dust off my copy of Super Mario World and SNES and play using the controller (which means the dpad is on my left, buttons on the right) or I just emulate it on my computer and play using the keyboard (which puts the directional arrows on the right, and the buttons on the left), I do roughly the same.

  10. ZippyDSMlee says:

    I LOATH the cookie cutter layouts most devs use….we need default universal button and axis’s mapping as well as sensitivity adjusting, there is no reason why we can not have it as control mapping is so simple and ts as simple to store customized layouts.


    And with customized layouts you can build control devices that work off of muscle and eye movement as well as simple nerve impulses.

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! CP/IP laws should not effect the daily life of common people!

  11. GrimCW says:

    i always HATED console games because of the mappins weren’t changeable besides reg and southpaw at best.

    this would honestly fix my biggest gripes if it were to happen.

    tbh i hate the new Halo reach controls :p they shifted them up IMO purely to shift them up and make things "feel" new…


  12. Thad says:

    I never got into Tomb Raider because of the button mappings on the original game.  You could configure the controls — just not to any layout that put Jump on the bottom button!  You know, the place it had been in every single game with a diamond button layout since Super Mario World.

    Nintendo has the same problem with its legacy games.  Want to play a GBA game on a DS, or an N64 game on a Wii?  Hope you like the jump button being put on the right.

  13. axiomatic says:

    AGREED! Not only for our quadriplegic gaming buds, but for when developers totally botch default button layouts.

    I especially hate it when developers mess with FPS controller button layout. We’ve hit a standard lately with most console button layouts and when dev’s screw up that standard I need to be able to fix it.

    Left handed people need some love too in this capacity.

    I imagine that some "suit" somewhere figured that they could cut development costs by eliminating this feature. I’m sure he got a bonus and a promotion.

  14. CodeMonkey76 says:

    While a quadriplegic is an extreme case that most developers don’t consider designing towards, most developers and game console manufacturers simply don’t design for the much larger demographic of left handed users as well.  The fact that you can go pick up a modern game for a new game console and go home only to find out that the game doesn’t support left handed controls baffles me.  A simply fix, that would make development easy for game studios would be if console manufacturers would actually just manufacture and distribute left handed controllers.  They could make controllers where the entire controller is mirrored from the standard version.  The wiring and signals would all be the same for a game developer because the mirroring would be done with hardware, not software.  I know plenty of gamers who simply don’t buy a game once they learn it doesn’t support lefty controls or it supports them very poorly.  Microsoft/Nintendo/Sony could fix this very easily by releasing mirrored controllers.

Comments are closed.