‘People don’t know that I’m disabled and I don’t want them to know’
By Adam Waltz
PHOENIX – “I’ve been gaming my whole life,” says Charley Gentry who maneuvers his way through a round of Call of Duty’s “Nazi Zombies” (true gamers know). “I started on the original Nintendo.”
Charley was born without arms or legs. As controllers evolved, Charley had a hard time keeping up with new buttons, making it harder for him to play his favorite games. He was forced to get creative in order to hit new buttons.
“I moved up to the Nintendo 64, which was a trip to try and play. I tied a shoestring, and put the other end in my mouth so I could hit that,” said Charley. “I think it was called the Z button.”
“Buttons got really complicated. You have to hit L3 plus X plus Triangle X move. I was like I can’t play anymore,” said Charley. “There’s no way I can play.”
When standard controllers didn’t fulfill his needs, he reached out to Adam Coe at Evil Controllers for a custom piece.
“The challenge for Charley is really reaching the shoulders and the triggers on the controller,” said Adam.
A custom controller was created by rewiring buttons to new locations and making buttons easier for Charley to hit.
Charley uses his chin and shoulders to push buttons that have been modified to be more sensitive and accessible for his limitations.
“I played games from Battlefield 4, ranked high up on the ladders,” said Charley. “You know people don’t know that I’m disabled and I don’t want them to know.”
Evil Controllers was started in Coe’s dorm room at the University of Arizona. There he created custom controller covers for Xbox and PlayStation controllers. It wasn’t until later that Adam began exploring the world of accessible gaming, reconfiguring and creating gaming controllers for people with disabilities.
“We really wanna bring a lot of light to need and a demand for accessible gaming,” said Adam. “It’s something that doesn’t receive the notice it really deserves.”
Evil Controllers tailors controllers to the gamer’s specific limitations. The hope is to make gaming more accessible for everyone. Currently, Adam and his staff are looking to enhance one-handed gaming.
“As far as the community of handicap gaming, it’s kind of in the shadows,” said Charley.
But since working with the not-so-evil Evil Controllers, Charley says the sky’s the limit.