Designing accessible packaging for the Xbox One Adaptive Controller

Microsoft explains how its packaging design team developed accessible packaging for the Xbox One Adaptive Controller.

Microsoft announced the Xbox One Adaptive Controller back in May, revealing a gamepad built to make games more approachable for players with limited mobility.

Today, the company has provided a glimpse into how the controller is actually packaged-- it was designed with accessibility in mind. 

As detailed in a blog post, Microsoft acknowledges how essential items used in packaging like twist ties, tape, and thick plastic creates an extra challenge for those with limited mobility. It only makes sense then, that the packaging for an accessible gamepad should also be easy to unbox. 

Microsoft’s packaging design team was tasked with developing packaging where players with limited dexterity could easily open the box and remove the controller. On top of that, it had to look like any other Xbox packaging design. 

“The product team was putting so much diligence into getting the controller right that to not have a package that was thoughtfully and mindfully designed for the end user would have felt like a real miss,” notes Kevin Marshall, creative director of Microsoft’s packaging design studio.

It was crucial for the design team to create a package that would blend accessibility and branding seamlessly. "We wanted to create a package that was clearly designed with the end user in mind, and we wanted it to feel like it was just part of our ecosystem,” Marshall adds. “We wanted it to be empowering, but we didn’t want it to stand apart from any package we create.”

To start, Mark Weiser, the Microsoft designer who created the packaging, looked for examples of other accessible packaging but found himself uninspired. It was actually the back and forth with gamers and disability advocates while the Xbox Adaptive Controller was being developed that shaped the packaging's design. 

The final packaging for the controller is taped down at the top, but the tape has a non-sticky loop on one end so it's easily removed. It seems like loops are a big part of Microsoft's approach to accessible packaging. The box the controller is housed in is taped as well, but there are also loops on either side of that tape. 

Peel it off and a gray cloth strap falls from the front of the box, allowing for players to slide the top of the package up and open. There are actually several ways to get the controller out of the box, whether, picking it up or wiggling it out with another loop. As a plus, the box looks like any other Xbox product. 

Be sure to head over to Microsoft's blog, which goes into even more detail about how the Xbox Adaptive Controller was designed. It's definitely worth a read. 

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