How the remap Xbox One controller feature spells a world of difference for accessible gaming.

Last week, Microsoft unveiled that they would be rolling out a “remap Xbox One controller”, which can be used with the stock controller that comes with their current generation console. This came as a surprise to the Xbox One users as this announcement comes a few months before the Elite controller is released to the market. What could Microsoft be thinking for announcing something like this?

… Well, it’s not as ludicrous as it sounds.

In this past year, Microsoft has shown a great amount of insight with their product and software offering, and part of it is due to listening to what their user base is looking for. And believe me, with the ability to stream Xbox One games to your PC, the remapping controller feature further bolsters their support for the streaming service.

I could probably go on at this point, but let’s roll things back a bit, shall we?

So what do we mean by remap?

Whenever we play video games, one of the things that we first look at (well, after the epic game intro) is the control configuration. This is usually located within the game options, and allows the gamer to change the game controls to suit their liking – whether it be by individual input or by different “whole” presets.

xbox one controller with callouts pointing to each control input

Here’s an example “button configuration” looks like in-game. Looks familiar?

While this is a norm, there are instances where a game has “unassigned” buttons or inputs that would get in the way of the gamer. There are also times where a game control is assigned to 2 controller inputs, which allows the inputs to reflect in succession.

Not a big deal, you may say?

Well, let’s say you have two buttons that “fire” across from each other, one button on top for jump, and one at the bottom for crouching. Sounds normal, since you’d have both “jumping fire” and “crouch-fire” inputs ready, and if you were using your thumb to do either inputs you could do either from an upright thumb position or tilted the other direction.

But as I’ve said numerous times before, we all have different-sized fingers, and so what could certainly be an exact press of “jumping fire” could easily be a “jump-crouch”, “crouch-fire” or a redundant “fire”. Not exactly the most ideal scenario now, is it?

That’s where remapping comes into play.

This allows the gamer to either switch around buttons, assign two buttons as one, or outright disable the button itself.

xbox one controller zoomed in on the face buttons and the right analog stick

So you could have “B” assigned as another “A”, and “X” disabled, then right analog for direction. Cool, right?

But isn’t this redundant with control configurations in-game?

Not quite! The nice thing about remapping is that you can do this outside of any game – you’re creating a setup for your controller that can be used across ALL games instead of patterning it to a single game. And this opens up so many possibilities for gamers, most especially in the accessibility aspect.

With controller remapping, everything that you need to set up is within the constraints of the controller and its drivers – no need to create a unique contraption to support accessibility, or take out parts of the controller to adhere to accessibility needs. For instance, if a gamer is only able to use one hand, then they can remap the controller to favor the inputs on the leftmost of the controller (if left-handed) or rightmost (if right-handed). Another instance is if the gamer has some underdeveloped fingers for the trigger/shoulder buttons, they can remap them to the face buttons and switch out the ones they don’t need as much in-game. These are just some of those endless possibilities!

xbox one controller where instead of a left analog and directional pad, an analog stick is built under the controller.

Big respect to these guys for their ingenuity. Truly amazing work!

Of course, we can’t disregard the amount of thought and effort that it takes to modify a controller for accessibility purposes – there are a wide number and variety of controller mods that have been made over the years that cater to persons with disability (I did write about the Adroit Switchblade 2 Controller not too long ago, check it out!), but not all of us are versed in the electrical side of controller wirings and PCB’s to make one similar.

Like with most hardware out there, disassembly of your controller nullifies any warranty (if there were any) that came with it, so tinkering with your controller physically may not be an all-around good idea. With remapping, you do not need to open up your controller, as the controller inputs are programmed into the controller.

You can keep your controller intact and take solace in the fact that the configurations you use won’t need any parts removed.

Another significant thing about the remapping feature is that it is generally an inexpensive procedure. Accessibility-driven peripherals that are sold on the market can be seen as pricey, which is justified because these are intricately designed and set up to accommodate users both with and without impairments.

It’s because of how this versatility is designed that pretty much justifies the price point.

So how would you feel if I told you that to do remapping, all you’ll need is your standard Xbox One controller and the firmware protocol to handle the remapping? Then, you might say, you’re actually getting an accessible option that is easier on your budget!

But wait, don’t have second thoughts on the Elite Controller!

xbox one elite controller, front and back

This device is still gonna be awesome, guys!

No no no, that’s not the case. This feature is not meant to replace the Xbox One’s upcoming controller. In fact, with all the multiple configurations that are available to the Elite controller due to swappable parts, the remapping feature is meant to compliment and further make the Xbox Elite Controller more accessible.

So, for just a little more than the standard one, you can now instantly expand the configuration possibilities on a single controller without compromising its physical structure.

In closing, the remap Xbox One controller feature is a very exciting one that is definitely worth checking out, whether with the stock controller or with the Elite. Props to the development team for coming up with this feature, and I’m personally looking forward to seeing this soon for Xbox One and Windows 10 users.


How do you feel about the remap feature on the Xbox One controller? Do you like it or hate it? Let me know in the comments section!

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