Steam Controller Helps Disabled Father Play Skyrim With Son

Man's father excited to finally be able to play Skyrim.


Eli Jewett (known as SmashingEmeraldz on Reddit) wanted his dad to play Skyrim, but there was just one problem: his dad only has the use of his right hand.

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When I heard that Jewett was looking to solve this problem, I reached out to him to talk about the relationship he has with his father, how they play video games together, and how the Steam Controller provided a unique solution.

"The game he plays the most is probably Diablo 3, however I do play Civilization V with him quite often," Jewett told me. "They are both one-handed games so he can play them easily."

In addition to games that are easily controlled with one hand, Jewett has in the past controlled the keyboard while his dad used the mouse in games like Portal. Unfortunately, Skyrim has proved too difficult for them to split up the work.

"[Splitting the work] was very difficult and was near impossible to play some games," explained Jewett.

When Jewett read a post from Chris Hepburn (known as not_a_reddit_admin on Reddit) that he was accepting requests for Steam Controller configurations, only one thing came to mind: a one-handed configuration that would allow his dad to play Skyrim. Hepburn jumped at the idea.

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When Hepburn asked the community for requests, he got what he expected, saying that most people wanted a configuration for another one of the many games they've played. Hepburn said that's cool, but Jewett's request stood out. I talked to Hepburn about why he decided to take on the project.

"The son wanted his dad to play Skyrim! Enough said. Who wouldn't want their dad to share Skyrim with them?" asked Hepburn. "We've all played Skyrim and this guy's dad wants to try it. Had to make it at that point."

Hepburn says that it was a challenge, but one that he was excited to overcome.

"I didn't know if it was possible. No one had tried yet as far as I could tell," explained Hepburn. "New challenges are hard to come by, especially ones no one on the planet has attempted yet."

Hepburn ended up creating the configuration, which allowed for players to play Skyrim with a combination of physical and motion controls, something he details in a video he posted to YouTube. Players can use the right trackpad to look around, the right trigger to attack and block, and the analog stick to select weapons and magic. The face buttons work in the same way they do with a regular Xbox 360 controller. For movement, players have to tilt the controller forward and backward to move.

Jewett's dad hasn't tried the configuration yet, due to Steam's community settings not working at the time they tried to set it up, but he said his father couldn't wait.

"After I told him he immediately launched Skyrim," said Jewett. "I would say that he is excited."

When I told Hepburn that the father was excited to try out the custom configuration, he said he was delighted that doing something that makes him happy gave someone else happiness.

"I hope the dad loves it! He's opening Pandora's Box though," said Hepburn. "He'll be playing that game for hours if it works well for him."

If Jewett's dad does end up struggling with the configuration, Hepburn said he'll go back and tinker with it until it works comfortably. However, the one-handed configuration isn't the only tinkering that Hepburn will be doing to help disabled gamers.

"We've had one guy asking for a config for his wife who has arthritis. She can't use her thumbs," said Hepburn. "That's going to be really hard, but if it means she could play a few games it would be worth it."

Hepburn doesn't take all the credit for himself, though. "Valve are the innovators here. They gave us the tools to help each other."

Jewett said he's thankful for Hepburn's work and hopes that this will open the doors to allow his dad to play other games like Fallout 3 and the Half-Life series.

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