Video Gamers with Disabilities Get Back in the Game with This New Controller

Luis Peña is a former U.S. Border Patrol agent who was injured on the job in a 2007 auto accident that left him a quadriplegic. After his recovery, Peña, an active gamer, longed to play his favorite video games. Instead of giving up his games, he formed LP Accessible Technologies and is now showcasing his LP Pad, an Xbox 360-compatible controller specifically made for gamers with little-to-no manual dexterity.

The LP Pad is just like a regular Xbox 360 controller, but it's designed to sit on the lap of the user. It weighs less than a pound and is fully compatible with the Xbox 360 gaming system. The controller has large buttons that do not require excessive force to activate; it operates with a simple brush of the hand across the button. Users can also plug in a chin stick, which requires no hand movements to operate.

Peña is working on a similar controller for the PS3 gaming system, but for now, he is taking the LP Pad around the country to show people how those with disabilities can resume their gaming action. Unfortunately, the cost of making the controller brings with it a high price tag for consumers. Currently, the LP Pad costs $399.99 plus shipping.

"I'm hoping eventually we can get a licensing agreement from Microsoft so we can sell these game controllers at a lower cost at Best Buy, GameStop, Wal-Mart, anywhere," Peña said. "Everybody that has used it absolutely falls in love with it. There is nothing out there at all for people like us," Pena remarked, "meaning 'people with SCI.'"

Pena requires daily assistance from his caregiver, Kaylin Winkelmann, who, after four years of helping Pena, became his best friend and business partner in LP Accessible Technologies. Together, they hope to help many other gamers get back in the game.

"It's hard not to get excited and at the same time we're nervous because we spent so much time and money just trying to get the prototype pad working correctly," he said. Pena and Winkelmann travel to hospitals, rehabilitation centers, trade shows and conventions to demonstrate the controller."

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