Choosing a gaming console could be a bit tricky when it comes to all the things spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) can influence. As a longtime gamer myself, here are a few things I recommend considering before deciding on the best gaming system for you or your child.
The No. 1 concern for gamers with SMA is the accessibility of the console. I start by assessing my own capabilities, then find my way from there.
I know that my hands are quite small, which could prove to be problematic for the grip on a controller. Over the years, PlayStation controllers have progressively gotten bulkier in size with every new generation of systems. The buttons have also gotten more stiff, which may pose a problem for those without good hand strength.
Normally, I would ask a friend with the console if I can test out their controller to see how it feels. Keep in mind that most games require somewhat fast, reaction-based inputs, so a comfortable controller is important.
I have played almost every modern console, but SMA does challenge me more as the years go on. After many competitive years on the PlayStation, I noticed that I needed a little less physical movement to play successfully.
Most controllers have a set interface that is not customizable. I have seen a few videos of an adaptive controller for Xbox that seemed impressive, but I ultimately knew that I could not use it. The controller seems reliant on multiple body parts serving as functions for controllers. It’s a fantastic idea in theory, but I would recommend researching adaptive devices before making any commitments.
I recently switched to PC gaming because the platform offers greater flexibility with games. Most games offer functions to help users play with different setups. The more tech-savvy people are, the better their experience.
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PC users have a much better range of capabilities for gaming, but the price of the computer can also make a huge difference. Inexpensive computers (under $1,000) can play small, not-too-demanding games. I would not recommend an inexpensive PC for advanced players.
Gaming computers are more expensive. They can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the specs consumers want. I have a gaming laptop that I also use for work; I made my decision by judging its accessibility. Others may have a different lifestyle, but I operate best on a mobile workstation.
I have noticed a common misconception that PC gamers only use a keyboard and mouse for gaming. With a bit of research and time spent getting used to the new technology, people can play games with a custom controller or even a mobile phone app. There are countless hours of tutorials online, and dedication to the setup process is a necessity.
Once established in the PC community, gamers have to find their people. As with any people you meet in the online-gaming world, some will be toxic, but others could become great online friends.
At the end of the day, being honest and realistic about your abilities and gaming needs is the key for SMA gamers. Test out consoles to find which enable the best fast-paced playing experiences. In most scenarios, I have to make a conscious decision as to whether or not I can envision my own hands moving properly while playing. Research is always an ally, but getting the best results requires patience and determination.
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Columnists on mySMAteam discuss SMA from a specific point of view. Columnists’ articles don’t reflect the opinions of mySMAteam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. Content on mySMAteam isn’t intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.