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Switch Adapted Guitar Hero

Status: Complete, instruction set in progress

It is fairly common for a person with severe disabilities to interact with his or her environment by using a single switch, selected from a wide variety of available "ability switches."  Wheelchairs, computers, speech generations devices, environmental control units, and more can be controlled with a single switch.  This also extends to the world of video games, and OneSwitch provides a superb overview of single switch gaming.

Often, one switch games must be designed from scratch, to accommodate the reduced number of inputs.  Independent game development for the PC is common, but is much more rare in the world of consoles (i.e., XBox 360, Playstation 3, Wii).  Fortunately, many of the available guitar or band mimicking games include a "beginner mode," which requires the user only to activate the "strum bar" of the controller.  This means that these games are perfectly suited to one switch play.  All that's left is to connect the ubiquitous 3.5mm mono jack to a guitar controller.

Barrie of OneSwitch has already hacked a Rock Band guitar and drums for this purpose.  However, Play-N-Trade donated a Guitar Hero World Tour set for AbleGames, which required a slightly different process of switch adaptation.

I switch adapted the "strum bar" for one switch play, which was extremely successful at AbleGames 2009 and 2010.  Later, I switch adapted each of the colored "fret" buttons, in hopes that a team of 4-6 people with disabilities could play the game as a team, with each controlling a single switch.  I haven't yet tested this team play mechanic, but I did carefully photograph and document the process of adapting the guitar.  I will post a DIY instruction set as soon as it is complete.

R. J. Cooper sells similarly adapted guitars for $99 (USD).

Copyright © 2012 Gavin Philips. All rights reserved.