A stylized Xbox logo featuring an orange floral petal pattern on a blooming desert landscape including cacti with pink, yellow, and white blossoms and two pink Xbox controllers.
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Special Olympics Partnership Marks Xbox’s Continued Support for the Thriving Gaming & Disability Community

Xbox Celebrates the Gaming and Disability Community

Xbox is known for its commitment to making gaming accessible to everyone, and this month the company is shining a spotlight on the gaming and disability community. With over 400 million players in this community, Xbox recognizes the importance of inclusivity and wants to ensure that everyone feels represented and valued.

Elle Vance: A Software Engineer with a Unique Perspective

In an effort to highlight the impact of the gaming and disability community, Xbox invited Elle Vance, a Software Engineer II for Xbox Player Services, to share their story. Vance, who is diagnosed with autism and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, provides a unique perspective that has proven to be advantageous in their work and personal life.

Having worked with Xbox for four years, Vance was recruited through a program for neurodiverse individuals. They are proud to be open about their autism diagnosis and believe that their candor has not only helped others understand autism better but also realize that neurodiversity exists in many people’s lives.

Vance’s experience with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition that affects connective tissue, has required multiple surgeries and the use of mobility aids. While they have felt the need to mask their disabilities at times, they have found support in advocating for themselves at work, including the ability to work from home in a comfortable and quiet environment.

As a hobby, Vance enjoys gaming and has found some favorite titles on Xbox Game Pass, such as “Pentiment,” “Hi-Fi Rush,” and “Party Animals.” They always play games with subtitles on, as it helps them process auditory information while fully immersing themselves in the action. Vance also wishes to see more video game developers include autistic protagonists, as representation is essential for both inclusivity and fostering empathy.

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Xbox Partners with Special Olympics for Gaming for Inclusion Esports Tournament

Xbox is excited to announce its continued partnership with Special Olympics for the Gaming for Inclusion Esports Tournament. This annual tournament, presented by Special Olympics, Microsoft, and Xbox, aims to empower Special Olympics athletes through the power of gaming. The tournament will feature both virtual and in-person events, with participants getting the chance to play alongside celebrity supporters of Special Olympics in an in-person and livestreamed event in Los Angeles.

Additionally, Xbox recently hosted three Special Olympics athletes at the Microsoft Experience Center for shoutcaster training. These athletes developed their esports commentating skills and will put them to the test during the Gaming for Inclusion tournament in November.

Supporting the Gaming and Disability Community with Microsoft Rewards

Microsoft Rewards members in the United States and the United Kingdom can earn and donate points to support organizations that assist people in the gaming and disability community. Three featured organizations are Special Effect, Warfighter Engaged, and AbleGamers. These organizations work to maximize fun, improve quality of life, and combat social isolation for people with disabilities.

Xbox gamers can earn Rewards points through various activities, such as playing games, completing quests, and making select purchases. These points can be redeemed for real rewards, and members can donate them to support the important work of these organizations.

Exploring Games Curated by Gaming and Disability Communities at Microsoft

Xbox recognizes the importance of representation in gaming and has curated collections of games created by and reflecting the experiences of the gaming and disability community. These collections are available on the Microsoft Stores on Xbox and Windows. Xbox Game Pass members can also access specific collections designed for the gaming and disability community.

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Some featured titles within these collections include “Halo Infinite,” which offers prosthetic customization options, “Hi-Fi Rush,” which tells the story of a disabled rockstar, and “Sea of Solitude,” which explores themes of mental health and empowerment.

Artist Danielle Taphanel Redesigns Xbox Logo

To honor and celebrate the gaming and disability community, Xbox commissioned artist Danielle Taphanel to redesign this year’s Xbox logo. Danielle, who is disabled and non-binary, drew inspiration from a blooming desert to create a design that represents the resilience and necessity of the disabled community. The design aims to capture the diverse experiences within the community and the joy and connection that games provide.

Xbox Ambassadors Share Stories About Gaming and Disability

The Xbox Ambassadors Program is spotlighting individual ambassadors on their blog and Xbox Wire to share stories of how gaming has impacted the lives of people with disabilities. These stories highlight the role gaming plays in providing entertainment and a sense of community.

New Gamerpics, Profile Theme, and Avatar Items

In collaboration with the disability communities at Xbox, the company has introduced new gamerpics, a profile theme, avatar items, and wallpaper. Additionally, Xbox has partnered with Special Olympics to offer Champions Rise gear, allowing avatars to mimic the attire of Special Olympics athletes competing in the Gaming for Inclusion tournament.

These offerings aim to create a more inclusive and representative gaming environment where everyone can feel seen and appreciated.

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Written by Brandy McPherson

Brandy, known in the gaming community as "PixelProwess", has been a prominent voice in the eSports scene. Author of "Beyond the Joystick", he delves into the psychology of competitive gaming.

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