A Young Gamer Gets the Hero’s Treatment in This Endearing Ad for Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller

New product provides greater access

Gaming for everyone. Microsoft
Headshot of Shannon Miller

When was the last time you felt the rush of finally mastering the big boss level of a video game with the enthusiastic support of your friends? It’s an exhilarating feeling that only a fraction of us really understand because the experience has often been out of reach for those who don’t fit the paradigm of the erroneously touted “typical gamer” (meaning white, able-bodied, and male).

Little by little, however, the video game industry has been working to close the gap between marginalized gamers and the full community experience of their products. To make their games more accessible, Microsoft released the Xbox Adaptive Controller this past September, which was designed primarily to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility. For the holidays, the tech giant partnered with creative agency M:united//McCann for an endearing short that shows the power and joy of inclusion.

The 60-second film, “Reindeer Games,” features Owen Simmons, a 9-year-old gamer living with Escobar Syndrome. As Owen steadily descends upon a major gaming achievement, word quickly spreads around the block. Buzzing with excitement, the neighborhood children rush to Owen’s side to witness a victory that was likely long fought and hold back nothing as they celebrate his win. As they dance and cheer, the spirit of the ad is captured in an overlaying tagline: “When everybody plays, we all win.”

Microsoft conferred with its internal accessibility team and an American Disability Act expert to ensure authenticity and that the story was told appropriately.

The ad encapsulates the intended fun of gaming by showing what it means to the people who play them—an immersive bonding experience as well as a chance for anyone to be a local hero, even if that instance is wrapped in fantasy. It can ring especially true over the holidays when friends and family come together to spend precious time with each other. These moments should be available to everyone, and with steps like these, Microsoft is part of a growing community that is working to make that a reality for everyone.

The ad will launch on NBC during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 22.


Corporate Vice President of Brand, Advertising and Research: Kathleen Hall
GM, Global Advertising: Deana Singleton
Director of Global Advertising: Stacey Terrien
Director of Global Advertising, Social and Media Partnerships: Jenny Leahy
Senior Advertising Manager: Ron Schott
Senior Advertising Manager: Dawn Novak
Advertising Manager: Hannah Westing
Senior Manager Marketing Communications: Veronica Mao

m:united//McCann New York
Chief Creative Officer: Sean Bryan
EVP, Executive Creative Director: Shayne Millington
EVP, Executive Creative Director: David Banta
SVP, Group Creative Director: Sherrod Melvin
Associate Creative Director: Martha West
Associate Creative Director: Will Montgomery
Senior Art Director: Julie Koong
Senior Copywriter: David Cappolino

Global Business Lead: Kevin Nelson

EVP, Executive Account Director: Tina Galley
SVP, Group Account Director: Rosemary Calderone
Account Director: Pat Six
Account Supervisor: Alex Cho
Account Supervisor: Kyle Ross

SVP, Head of Integrated Production: Carolyn Johnson
Producer: Rebecca Magner

Project Management
SVP, Director of Project Management: Stella Warkman
Project Manager: Jessica Jacobson

Business Affairs
Executive Vice President: Danielle Korn
SVP, Executive Music Producer: Eric Johnson
Music Business Manager: Sam Belkin
Music Producer: Dan Gross

EVP, Global Strategy Director: Joanna Schwab
SVP, Group Strategy Director: Eldad Heilweil

Production: Hungry Man
Director: Bryan Buckley
Managing Partner/Executive Producer: Kevin Byrne
Producer/Director of Sales: Dan Duffy
Executive Producer: Mino Jarjoura
Producer: Matt Lefebvre

Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Damion Clayton
Assistant: Michael Shugarman
Executive Producer: Eve Kornblum
Producer: Jenny Greenfield

Post/VFX: The Mill
Executive Producer: Anastasia von Rahl
Senior VFX Producer: Michael Theurer
Production Coordinator: Ariana Govan
Shoot Supervisors: Tara DeMarco & Jason Monroe
Chief Creative Officer: Phil Crowe
2D Lead Artist: Daniel Thuresson
2D Artists: Evan Langley, Greg VanZyl, Roxy Zuckerman, Tim Crabtree, & Stephen Paragone
3D Artists: Chris Storniolo, Phil Mayer, Michael Lori, Danny Garcia, Abhishek Kumar, Ayush Bajoria, Fazal Khan, Ganesh Lamkhade, Giri Prasath S, Karthik Viswanathan, Raj Kumar M, Rajan Ramakrishna, Rijo R, Sathyaraj A, Spandana Battula, Sunil MM, Tarun Kemtur
Matte Painting: Gillian George, Andy Wheater, Itai Muller
Colorist: Adam Scott
Executive Producer, Color: Linda Jackson
Color Producers: Liza Kerlin & Diane Valera
Production Coordinator, Color: Jessica Amburgey
Color Assist: Gemma Parr, Logan Highlen, & Zack Wilpon

Music: JSM
CCO/Co-Composer: Joel Simon
Co-Composer: Nathaniel Morgan
Co-Composer: Seamus Kilmartin
Executive Producer: Jeff Fiorello
Producers: Norm Felker & Andrew Manning

Audio/Post: Sonic Union
Sound Designer/Mix Engineer: Michael Marinelli
Producer: Patrick Sullivan

Shannon Miller is a writer, podcast creator and contributor to Adweek.