Now that we’ve witnessed Super Bowl Dull it’s time to dive back into the important things in life. Like - deciding what the best ad during the Super Bowl was!
Lots of people seem to have their opinions, of course. The folks over at Yahoo News seem to think it was the NFL 100. Which is a delightful ad putting together NFL super stars, old and new. And I like the commercial quite a bit. It’s funny. It’s fast paced. And it’s not too long (because I think this bit could wear itself out if it were say, several minutes long). Of course, it is an ad about football. During a football game. Which is a little silly, but whatever.
The folks over at CBS Sports really like the Bumble Serena Williams spot. It’s a socially aware female empowerment type commercial which goes really well with their brand messaging. For those that don’t know, Bumble is a dating app where women must make the first move / send the first message. Which is designed to cut out a lot of the crazy, toxic things that men send to women (usually, unsolicited). The commercial is well done, just not my favorite.
CNN went with the (perhaps, obvious) Bud Light/ Game of Thrones mash up. Continuing their charming “Dilly, dilly” line up, Bud Light knocks it out of the park with this one. “I don’t have the plague, anymore” is probably my favorite line from a commercial in a while.
There was lots of love for the Hyundai / Jason Bateman commercial, which I thought was pretty clever. There was equal amounts love/shade thrown around for the Change Up the Usual ad for Stella Artois which put together Carrie Bradshaw (SJP from Sex and the City) and “The Dude (Jeff Bridges from The Big Lebowski). People seem to love it or REALLY HATE it. I kind of liked it.
There was the Michael Bublé / Bubly commercial, which everyone at my Super Bowl party (including me) thought was pretty charming. And even though Donald Trump, Jr hated the Washington Post ad, his opinion is wrong. The Tom Hanks voiced ad is all about the importance of journalists and journalistic integrity and features the two murdered journalist that worked for the paper. It's a pretty powerful ad. Though, I do think the criticism of “The struggling newspaper spent HOW MUCH on the ad?” is fair.
There are, of course, ads that didn't work as well as the advertiser hoped and some flat out stinkers too (but then again, this is all subjective). Including one with a really creepy robot kid and a gross one with chunky milk. But I’m not going to link to them or any of the other ones I hated since that will only give them more traffic.
All that being said, there was only one ad that I thought was exceptional, that one being: Microsoft’s "When everybody plays, we all win" two minute commercial for the XBOX Adaptive Controller. Seriously, you guys, every “I’m not crying, you’re crying!” meme becomes a harsh reality up in my crib when I watch that ad. And, um, it’s possible I’ve watched it several times.
Back in July I wrote about the Adaptive Controller and basically said it’s the greatest gamer thing ever. I still feel that way. And with twenty five million hits on the commercial already since Sunday (on YouTube alone), I have a sneaking suspicion lots of folks feel that way too.
Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller might be the greatest gamer thing ever. Certainly so for gamers with disabilities. As you may or may not know - gaming controllers are a beast to handle. They have two small joysticks, one D pad, four top buttons, two trigger buttons and two bumper buttons. “I’m not really good with a controller” is a common complaint from able bodied gamers. I’ve been gaming for decades and I still find myself going, “Whoops! That was the wrong button - and now my character is dead.”
But the point is clear - you pretty much need both hands to finely manipulate the controller and the stamina to handle it for many, many hours. Which puts disabled folks at a colossal disadvantage just to play a console game. What if said person only has one hand? Or can’t use either hand. Or doesn’t have the strength to push the buttons or pull the triggers. Or doesn’t have the motor functions to properly handle the control. Or what if they are quadriplegic?
Their options are limited and usually expensive. There are some third party companies that manufacture controller accessories that help those with physical disabilities, but no company as large as Microsoft has tackled this effort. Until, obviously - now. And they spared no expense.
So what is the Adaptive Controller?
“By taking an inclusive design approach and considerations of gamers who might not be able to reach all the bumpers and triggers or hold a controller for an extended period of time, for example, we were able to design a controller that provides a way for more fans to enjoy gaming. On our journey of inclusive design, we have taken a wider view of our fans and a more inclusive approach to designing for them.
For gamers with limited mobility, finding controller solutions to fit their individual needs has been challenging. The solutions that exist today are often expensive, hard to find, or require significant technical skill to create. A number of individuals and organizations are creating custom solutions, but it has been often difficult for them to scale when most rigs need to be so personalized.
Joining the Xbox family of controllers and devices, the Xbox Adaptive Controller was created to address these challenges and remove barriers to gaming by being adaptable to more gamers’ needs. It was developed in partnership with organizations around the world, including The AbleGamers Charity, The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged. We worked closely with them and directly with gamers who have limited mobility to assist in our development. Our goal was to make the device as adaptable as possible, so gamers can create a setup that works for them in a way that is plug-and-play, extensible, and affordable. In addition to working with common adaptive switches that gamers with limited mobility may already own, it has two large buttons built in. These buttons can also be reprogrammed to act as any of the standard controller’s button inputs via the Xbox Accessories app.”
The Adaptive Controller releases in September and will retail at a very reasonable $100. There is already a whole array of accessories available on the Xbox site. The nice thing about the controller is that it has nineteen 3.5mm ports and two USB 2.0 ports of external inputs. A lot of those third party accessories that disabled gamers use to “hack” the regular Xbox gear will be fully compatible with the Adaptive Controller. So one wouldn’t have to buy all new expensive accessories as your old ones will allow you to just plug into the Adaptive Controller. For example, foot controllers or even mouth controllers will be able to plug directly into the Adaptive Controller, etc., etc.
According to worldbank.org, fifteen percent of the world’s population (approx. 1 billion) has some form of disability and between 110 and 190 million people experience some kind of significant disability.
I am certainly not going to suggest that the Adaptive Controller is about to save the world by allowing much, much easier access to Mass Effect or Tomb Raider via Xbox One. But - this is certainly a step in the right direction.
As an avid gamer I often want to share this AWESOME experience I just had with game X! It never even occurred to me that this simple pleasure of game experience was extremely difficult for such a large number of folks. I mean, if you’re able bodied and you just don’t want to game - that’s all good. But if you’re physically impaired and you really, really want to game - but you are unable to do so because of your disability - that fucking sucks.
And Microsoft is doing something about that.
Well played, Microsoft. Well played, indeed.