SpecialEffect names Aaron Greenberg as an honorary Vice President

By Heidi Nicholas,
Aaron Greenberg, the head of Xbox Game Marketing, has been made honorary Vice President at SpecialEffect. Special Effect is a UK-based organisation which aims to help those with disabilities to play games, with the wider goal of improving mental health, confidence, and rehabilitation. The charity visits people to learn what it is they'd like to play, and then either match them with existing equipment, modify it, or create new equipment to best help them play as well as they can.


Examples of the technology SpecialEffect use includes modified gaming controllers, chin joysticks, and eye-control systems; and indeed, Greeberg visited them in November of last year to try out the EyeMine software developed to allow gamers with disabilties to play Minecraft with their eyes. Greenberg evidently has a huge respect for SpecialEffect, saying that he has been "incredibly inspired by the critically important work" that Dr. Mick Donegan, the CEO and Founder of SpecialEffect, and the team do. The feeling is clearly mutual, as Dr. Donegan says that he's "absolutely delighted that Aaron has accepted SpecialEffect’s invitation to become a Vice President. As we seek to help more and more disabled people across the world, for us to have support from such a hugely respected advocate as Aaron is both a massive honour and privilege.”


Just this year, the SpecialEffect team have already written about two gamers they've helped; Eleanor and Tye. Tye was having issues gaming because of an arm tremor from a brain injury, and the SpecialEffect team came up with the idea to remap the paddles to the triggers and bumpers on an Xbox Elite controller, as well as adding thumbstick grips. Both of these changes made a huge difference, and the extra weight of the Elite controller helped steady his tremor when pressing the face buttons. Eleanor, meanwhile, struggled to use her PS4 controller due to the way her bones, spine, and physical abilities were affected by Morquio Syndrome. The SpecialEffect therapists swapped in a Hori Mini Controller, mapped the shoulder buttons to switches alongside it, and put the whole setup on a Logitech flexible tray over the arm of the sofa, allowing Eleanor to have greater ease when pressing the controls.

Greenberg commented on how SpecialEffect helped to design the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which has in itself been designed to help gamers with limited mobility. One of Microsoft's slogans for the controller, and the motto on Head of Xbox Phil Spencer's Twitter account, is "when everybody plays, we all win". It's clear how much this message means to Greenberg, and how determined both he and the SpecialEffect team are to continue with their wonderful work and to try to help as many disabled gamers across the world as they can.
Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Hey, I'm Heidi! I've just finished studying a Masters in English Literature, but I've been obsessed with gaming since long before then. I began on the PS2 with Spyro, before graduating to the Xbox 360 and disappearing into Skyrim. I'm now a loyal RPG fan, but I still like to explore other genres — when I'm not playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey, or being lured back into Red Dead Redemption 2 or The Witcher 3!