Tags: Adapter, Avenger, Controller, Disabilities, Disabled, Dyslexia, Games, Gaming, Xbox 360
We’ve all read about, and have had read to us what Dyslexia is. To quote the International Dyslexia Association it is:
“ A language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.”
Which all sounds inconvenient but manageable to someone without Dyslexia. Have you ever taken the time to really think about what life would be like if you suffered from it? Imagine the feeling of alienation as a child when all your peers are comprehending the information being read to them. When people can read aloud from a book to the rest of the class. When they call on you to begin reading, only to hear people laugh and snicker because what you are reading makes no sense. You can’t understand what’s so funny, you are reading what’s on the paper, aren’t you? Can you trust your own mind? You look normal enough, no visible defects, so you must be retarded, stupid or lazy, right? That’s why you can’t pay attention in class or stay on track. Imagine this being your introduction to academia, to socialization. These scenarios and others have happened to so many young kids, just like it happened to me.
My name is David Kotkin, and I am a dyslexic. While I view my dyslexia as a blessing in disguise now, I didn’t always view it that way. My earliest memories of my Dyslexia were when I was six years old. I didn’t comprehend what was happening on the chalk board, or being read from the book. So out of boredom and frustration I started acting out, doing what I called “experiments”. I would place a piece of paper on my chest and walk, it didn’t fall right away. So I walked faster, and it stayed up longer. So then i ran, and when I ran it never fell as long as I was running. While this was a wonderful discovery, and it inspired all my peers to begin their own experimenting. Well the teacher couldn’t stand for this, so she locked me in a closet. Frustration came easy to me because I couldn’t comprehend, so with frustration came exasperation, and then I continued learning in my own, unique way.
Once my mother found out my teacher would lock me in the closet, she pulled me out of school to have me tested. My mom was furious and couldn’t understand why I was having such problems at school. After taking countless tests the doctor told my mom his diagnosis. I was Dyslexic, but beyond that I was a little above or below average on most tests, and obviously very poor on reading comprehension, but on creative thinking, I was off the charts. One could even go so far as to say genius level off the charts. The doctor was fascinated by the results and offered me a seat at a school for kids with learning disabilities.
So, being young, and not fully understanding of the situation I carried inside me the belief that I was stupid, dumb, or slow. That I had something wrong with me. This led to depression, and stress, which made my Dyslexia worse at times. I was so sick of being treated “special” I just wanted to be left alone. So I decided to get people off my back, I would lead them to believe I was getting better. While I am not proud of my “cheating, ” I am proud of the WAY I cheated. I created ways to cheat that would impress James Bond. I had a pen cap with a sliver missing from the side. This sliver would reveal answers to test questions when I spun it around. I invented my own language from scribbles, and doodles. I wrote these all over the binding on my book covers. To the teacher they were just scribbles, but to me they were a life line to keep me afloat.
Even with these tricks, I still felt like I was barely hanging on. My mom finally asked why I seemed so high-strung, and I told her I was sick of being stupid, so I had to cheat to keep people from bothering me. She insisted I wasn’t stupid, and sat me down to go over my test results. She told me she wasn’t just being a doting mother. That i truly was special, and that I shouldn’t be ashamed of it. “If you are SO dumb” she said, “Then how did you cheat right under these professionals noses for this long without ever being caught?” She was right. Different, yes. Dumb no. That opened my eyes to something that had been in front of my face this whole time. If I could use this gift to help me along through my studies, what if I used this gift to help others overcome obstacles. I had a new-found purpose, a sense of direction that I didn’t have before.
As I progressed through my studies, I found with hard work, and focus, and using my unique ability to see problems from a different angle I was able to graduate with a Master’s Degree and land a job as an art teacher. I got married to my beautiful wife, and had a wonderful son. Not only was I able to accomplish all this but I was able to help a tracheotomy patient develop a hands free adapter for his voice modulator. I designed, a desk with pulleys and levers for one of my art students who had MS. This desk allowed him to participate in art class even as his condition worsened. I invented the Goduster and was able to distribute 2 million units world-wide through Telebrands.
Then I met Danny. Danny was a new student in my art class and he, like myself, has a disability. Danny’s hands are deformed, and are only about the size of a half-dollar. This made it hard for him to participate in many activities that other kids enjoyed. One that Danny desperately wanted to participate in, but had an extremely hard time doing was playing his Playstation. So I got to work on the Avenger. After I got permission from Danny’s parents I was able to make a Frankenstein like controller from popsicle sticks, and rubber bands, etc. I gave it to Danny to try, and not only was he able to play using it. He started winning! He was placing in the top 3 in matches pretty regularly. This plus my own experience while testing it, I believed I was on to something.
From that the Avenger was born. Once again, my Disability opened another opportunity for me. Not only for me, but for others like Danny who may be able to use a controller easier now because of the Avenger. Looking back now there were times in my life I never thought I could be where I am right now. I am very grateful to be blessed with an ability to help others, and I’d love to be able to be successful enough to pursue my passion even further. While I enjoy helping others with my inventions I also hope I can inspire kids with disabilities to just keep your eyes on the goal. Ignore the slings and arrows of the world, and focus on what you want to make of your life. It may seem impossible at times but anything in this life worth having, never comes easy.
Tags: Adapter, Avenger, Controller, Xbox 360
It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. I recently received a “prototype” Avenger from the inventor David Kotkin. It’s a preview of the direction he wants to take the Avenger, and I tell you its pretty damn sweet.
Now you may or may not know the first release of the Avenger was small, and not what people were expecting, and honestly left a bitter taste in some people’s mouths. Trust me, no one knows this more than the guys at N-control and they are doing everything in their power to fix it, and compensate the customer. They are offering a voucher for a free upgrade with each of the 1st generation Avenger purchases.
Since my first review I have been fortunate to develop a good relationship with David Kotkin, in fact I would go so far as to call him a friend. Without a doubt I can say this man will not rest until the Avenger is what he envisioned it to be. The N-Control team is not just out to make a quick buck and then fade into obscurity. They want to be an established and trusted name in the gaming community. In my time talking with them I haven’t seen them ignore a complaint, or disregard any design issue feedback from customers. These guys are proactive in improving any discrepancies as soon as their time-table permits.
Now onto the Avenger itself. Out of the box it may not look all that impressive. The instructions as well as a link to a getting started video on YouTube are adequate to get it set up initially. Once Its set up to a baseline a few adjustments may be necessary to fit each individual. If you are a Kill to Death ratio die-hard you may want to play private matches, or unranked games until you feel comfortable with it. There is a learning curve. I have been playing with it for two weeks now and I am still unlocking more tricks with it.
Now with the Avenger broken in and your confidence with it established it does open up the game to you. It will not turn you into a devastating beast over night. If you were a poor player before you may slide up to an average player. If you were a beast before it will make you slightly more vicious.
So if I can’t decimate the entire enemy team like some super mutant, then why even bother? Let me tell you why. Playing with the Avenger gives you a sense of immersion in the game I have never experienced before. Not to mention it makes drop shotting almost instantaneous. Without a moment’s hesitation you can drop, and in a flash be right back up, and down again if you want. This effortless drop shotting along with the switch weapon, and reload literally at your fingertips make the Avenger a welcome addition to the 360 controller. It honestly may not be for everyone, but now that I’ve been able to adapt to it I honestly can’t imagine playing without it. If you decide it’s just not for you N-control offers a 100% money back guarantee within the first 30 days.
After all is said and done I give the Avenger an 9 out of 10. There are some design issues. Mainly the headset port, it should be opened up some more to accommodate the different jacks. The circles around the analogs as well as the select, start, and guide need to be opened. Supposedly FPS Freeks hit on the analog area of the adapter, and getting to the select and start for in-game score checks, or class switches isn’t the easiest thing.
These and other cosmetic issues don’t take away from the awesome functionality of the Avenger. They are just improvements to be made to make it that much better. Honestly the thing that takes away from the Avenger the most is not the product itself but the shipping delays. After experiencing the ordering process my self I can understand the aggravation people are having with the constant shipping delays and I honestly hope that will soon be a thing of the past.
Even as I am writing this the guys at N-control are hard at work addressing many of these design issues, and trying to iron out these shipping delays. A company constantly looking to improve and expand they are working on a PS3 adapter. The PS3 adapter is scheduled for a late 2011 release. Also the folks at Razer have been talking with N-control about making one for the Onza. How could these two together not make a deadly duo?
Hopefully the shipping delays, and any other problems the guys at N-control are having will get worked out. They are a great group of guys, not some profit driven corporation and I wish the best for them. If you’re on the fence about the Avenger I highly suggest you make your way to www.Avengercontroller.com for more testimonials, pics, and videos of the product. Also keep your eyes open as they are often running promotional offers and discounts.
Don’t panic it wont bite. Sure it looks like some Cyborg spider dry humping your Xbox 360 controller but it’s harmless. This is The N-Control Avenger , and according to the website it’s “ an external adapter that houses the existing XBox 360 controller to enhance game play. This accessory tightly grips the controller’s exterior surface, providing an immersive gaming experience through an intuitive user-interface. The adapter transforms the XBox 360 controller to enhance the gamers manual dexterity and situational awareness by improving accuracy and reaction-time. This sophisticated accessory is specially engineered for those who want to push their gaming abilities to new heights. The Avenger allows for rapid, fluid movements between individual buttons and analogue sticks, allowing gamers to access nine functions simultaneously. The adapter comes equipped with a stabilizer tripod, high-precision tension straps, hair-triggers, and sensitivity adjusters, which can be fine-tuned like a musical instrument.”
Determined to find out more info about this product since it literally appeared out of nowhere in November, I was able to contact the company and speak with the inventor of the Avenger, David Kotkin. David informed me that this was not his first invention and that he originally invented the Goduster, a spinning duster and he sold it to Telebrands. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the commercial at 3:00 A.M. on a sleepless night. After his Telebrands stint David felt he learned plenty about inventing and marketing new products and he decided to roll out the Avenger on his own.
David said he’d been working on trying to improve the XBOX 360 controller design since it first came out:
“ On the website, it says I originally invented the Avenger to prevent overuse injuries. I notice when I played for long periods of times my hand between my thumb and forefinger would start to hurt. So I began messing around with this using coat hangers and piano wire and such. Trying to make it so my thumb wasn’t constantly moving back and forth off the analog. Well not only did I start to notice an improved comfort level, I started to notice by keeping my thumbs always engaged on the analog I was able to turn and shoot, or drop and shoot faster. I gave a few buddies my early prototypes and they didn’t want to give them back.”
After visiting their website and watching the video about the Avenger I still had my reservations. At $59.00 I felt they kind of priced them self out of the market. I mean for $49.99 you can get a Dattell Turbo-Fire controller from Toys R Us. So why would I pay more for just a shell? Also I was concerned on the delivery time 5 to 6 weeks??? Serious? When I asked David about these two points he responded:
“Well, as far as the price, I understand it seems high, but honestly I feel that’s the lowest we could get it to recoup the time, money, and engineering I put into it and still make it profitable. I could have made a cheap $20.00 one, but it would have felt like, and performed like a $20.00 adapter, I don’t want that. I spent years developing this, I don’t want all that work to equate to a piece of junk. I want you to enjoy this product to its fullest, and to do that I had to raise cost to make sure the quality was there. One thing I cannot stress enough s my 100% return guarantee. I know people say satisfaction guarantee or your money back, but to return it its a big ordeal. With us it’s not like that, I want a happy customer.
As far as the 5 to 6 week delivery time that is a testament to how serious quality is to me. I did an initial run of 300 units, we sold those almost instantly, the next 1000 units came in from the plant and I sent them back. They were junk, I didn’t like how they felt at all, so I sent them back and now we’re behind on our shipping times. Once the production facility gets on track that time should come down.”
Before talking with David, I was very hesitant to give this product the time of day. After talking with him and deciding that his commitment to quality, and to the gaming community is genuine I have decided I will give the Avenger a try. I will have a follow-up story with a review of how it performs, and if I do notice any improved game play etc. Once I have finished with my initial review if any other clan member is interested I’ll mail it to them for them to try out as well. In the meantime if you would like to learn more visit their website at http://www.avengercontroller.com for more info and videos as well.