Microsoft teams up with Special Olympics USA for pilot Xbox gaming tournament

Microsoft is stepping up its inclusivity efforts by teaming up with Special Olympics USA for its first pilot video gaming tournament this summer. Players will compete in Forza Motorsport 7 as they go for the gold as part of the 2018 USA Games.

The event will take place on July 2 in Seattle, and feature eight Unified teams who made it through qualifier events held at Microsoft Stores across the U.S. in April. Unified teams, Special Olympics explains, are made up of one athlete with an intellectual disability and one without.

"At Microsoft, we believe that gaming is for everyone so we're proud to pilot the first gaming tournament at the Special Olympics USA Games this summer" said Phil Spencer, head of gaming at Microsoft. "Competitive video gaming is enjoyed by players around the world, and our goal with this pilot tournament is to challenge biases and breakdown barriers while providing an empowering and fun experience for all players."

Microsoft is also bringing Xbox gaming stations to the 2018 USA Games Fan Zone, offering fans a chance to play Forza Motorsport 7, Minecraft, and Super Lucky's Tale.

In a statement, Beth Knox, President and CEO of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, said: "Many of our athletes are avid gamers and research indicates playing video games can potentially boost cognitive and motor skills of people with intellectual disabilities. We are thrilled to partner with Xbox to bring the first-ever video gaming tournament to the USA Games. We hope everyone will come out and support the competitors in this pilot event."

Microsoft recently has been expanding its efforts to make products more accessible across swathes of its portfolio. For gaming, in particular, Microsoft last week debuted the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which was developed to make gaming much more accessible for gamers with disabilities.

How Xbox's Adaptive Controller could revolutionize gaming for the disabled

If you're in the Seattle area, the Xbox Gaming Tournament at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will take place from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on July 2 at the Lyceum room in the University of Washington Husky Union Building.