Since they're all so cool I couldn't decide between them, here are three neat things I found:
1. Max Shooter, an XBox 360 adapter
(Via the OneSwitch.org.uk blog). The Max Shooter from game accessory manufacturer MayFlash, Ltd. is an adapter that lets you play XBox 360 games with a keyboard and mouse. But more importantly for some gamers with disabilities, it lets you play with a PlayStation 2 controller. So if you have a PS2 controller you're comfortable with—adapted or otherwise—you can play XBox 360 games with it. You'll need a wired XBox 360 controller plugged in to get around Microsoft's safeguards, though. Boo!
2. Strikes for Strokes donations aid in rehab, from Mt. Vernon Register-News
Studies have found that the Nintendo Wii and other video game systems are beneficial in therapies for disabled people. So it should come as no surprise that Janis Cochran, who's had a stroke herself, donated a Wii, a television and a copy of Wii Fit to Crossroads Community Hospital Rehabilitation Services:
Cochran held a Strikes for Strokes bowling fund-raiser in September to raise money for the video game purchases. After her stroke, Cochran said she came up with the fund-raiser idea due to a dream where she held an event at a bowling alley.
SpecialEffect is a charity in the UK that specifically helps people with disabilities play video games and use other "leisure technology," such as art and music creation programs. They're home to GameBase, a database listing PC games according to whether and how they can be played using assitive technology like switches or headpointers. Readers can submit game reviews, too. Also, SpecialEffect is working on the Game for Helen project: to design and adapt video games for the kids and young adults at Helen and Douglas House, a children's hospice center. As the project description says:
A Game for Helen will enable a specialist team of professionals to set up and support a new games suite at Helen and Douglas House that matches the young people’s specific interests and abilities. It will give them the same level of access to computer game technology as everyone else – and let them get more fun out of life!
Retro Remakes is getting involved as well; one segment of its 2008 competition, called A Game For Helen, is searching for people "to create accessible updated counterparts of real or imagined arcade games from the 1920’s to date". The Games for Helen project started this month and will continue until 2010.
But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).
Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.