Those ingenuous engineers at Valve have invented a mouthpiece that could make games more accessible to disabled players. The creatively named “Tongue Mouse” is a mouse that lets you control a reticule with the tip of your tongue, as its inventor Ben Krasnow explains in the video below.
However, Krasnow admits that his lick-able device isn’t perfect. If the tongue isn’t steady and precise enough as a hand is when resting on a desk.
This leads to a tough but important question. Should there be a mandate like the Americans with Disability Act for videogames? The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against those with disabilities, and something similar in games could ask publishers to include options that make their products convenient for the disabled. When I spoke with Bill Donegan of SpecialEffect, a UK outfit that hacks software and hardware so that the disabled can have access, he told me that there are many cases in which popular games would be easy for quadriplegics to enjoy if the developers had implemented simple measures for mouth controls.
The issue is one of uniformity. As there is no central organization to speak to disabled players’ rights, there is also no uniform standards for hardware, which developers could put in their games. It’s something to think about, as those with physical handicaps can play these games and play them well if given the right tools. Hats off to Krasnow.