A list of resources for creating alternative controllers, playful installations and physical-digital hybrids
Are you interested in games that let us play differently? Have you found some intriguing project on Shake That Button and would like to find some extra information to help you start to make your own thing? This community-curated list of resources is here to support you: it is focused on tools, materials, and things that you can use to craft alternative controllers.
If you’d like to join in curating this list, please check the contributing section. Suggestions, revisions, and ideas are always welcome!
How to Use
Feel free to browse for topics that pick your interest! You can also search the page (
F3) for a keyword or phrase (for example, “cardboard”, “OSC”, “mouse”, “Arduino”).
Last updated on 2022-11-14.
Some tools are a bit of an amalgam, and cannot really fit into some of the other categories, as they integrate both crafting, software and making-ofs.
- All About Circuits - A website with textbooks, video lectures and a variety of materials about electronics. Made by EETech. Price: Free.
- Arduino Uno - A versatile board that has a good balance between number of connections, simplicity, and tons of libraries, examples, and compatible platforms. Made by Arduino. License: 22 USD. Price: Open-source hardware.
- BlueHID - A wireless (Bluetooth) board for creating HID (human-interaction devices, like mouse, joysticks and keyboards). Made by Ultimarc. Price: 43 USD.
- Itsy Bitsy 32u4 - A small Arduino-compatible board that can simulate joysticks, mouse, keyboard, MIDI and other input devices. It is an affordable option for making controllers for games when you cannot change the game’s original programming. Made by Adafruit. Price: 10 USD.
- Makey Makey - A board that turns low-current connections into keypresses and mouse events, without changing any software. Great for turning bananas into keyboards. Made by JoyLabz. Price: 50 USD.
- Micro:bit - A small board with built-in accelerometers, compass and radio. It features a block-based visual programming system and can connect via USB and Bluetooth. Made by BBC. Price: 27 CAD.
- Teensy 3.2 - A versatile board that can simulate HID (human-interaction devices) and is compatible with many libraries. It features lots of pins in a small size. Made by PJRC. Price: 20 USD.
- Touch Board - A board for capacitive touch (create circuits with no grounding) and distance sensing, compatible with Arduino. Made by BareConductive. Price: 53 GBP.
- U-HID - A board for creating HID (human-interaction devices, like mouse, joysticks and keyboards), with software for assigning each pin without programming firmware. Made by Ultimarc. Price: 69 USD.
If you are making a game using some specific game engines, you might be able to use some of the resources below to connect your alternative controller to the game engine software.
- Android Sensors for Unity - A plugin for using Android sensors with Unity (versions before 2019.1) beyond the ones exposed by the engine. The new Unity’s input system makes this much easier on versions after 2019.1. Made by mmeiburg. License: MIT. Price: Free.
- Ardity - An easy-to-use and setup serial port plugin for Unity. Made by dwilches. License: CC-BY. Price: Free.
- GDSerialAsset - A plugin for sending and receiving serial port messages in the Godot game engine. Made by Supwerwaitsum. License: MIT. Price: Free.
- How to Integrate Arduino with Unity - A well-written and detailed tutorial that includes easy to adapt examples. Made by Alan Zucconi. Price: Free (Alan has a Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/AlanZucconi).
- MidiJack - A small library for receiving and sending MIDI messages in Unity. Made by keijiro. License: MIT. Price: Free.
- OscJack - A small library for receiving and sending OSC messages in Unity. Made by keijiro. License: MIT. Price: Free.
Here you can find general use applications and standalone software that can be useful we making, testing or planning your alternative controller project.
- Enjoy2 - A small OSX program to map controller inputs to keyboard and mouse events. Made by Yifeng Huang. License: MIT. Price: Free.
- HTML5 Gamepad Tester - A web page that displays gamepad information in compatible browsers. Helpful when creating custom gamepads or debugging. Made by Ben Wiklund. Price: Free.
- JoyToKey - A desktop software that converts inputs from gamepads and joysticks to keyboard and mouse. Made by JTKSoft. License: Shareware. Price: Free trial and 7 USD for continued use.
- Sensors2OSC - An Android application that sends data from the phones’ sensors to any device via WiFi and OSC messages. Made by SensorApps. License: Available here. Price: Free.
- Xbox 360 Controller Emulator - A software that emulates a XBox 360 controller on Windows, letting other devices be usable in games that only support that controller. Made by TocaEdit. Price: Free.
These are packages, libraries, and APIs for a variety of software creation environments.
Open Projects and ‘Making Of’s
Sometimes it can be helpful to access and explore the source code, diagrams, documents, and processes of different projects. This topic is a list of making of articles, as well as free and open-source alternative controllers.
You can use the links below to propose new resources, help us fix errors in the list, suggest, comment or ask things. Contributions being reviewed and ongoing discussions can be accessed here.
Contribute via GitHub (login required) Contribute via form (no login required)
Our goal is to slowly grow this list so it can help more folks. You are welcome to contribute with tools and resources! We aim to be informative and support people in diverse situations, and we prioritize affordable and approachable resources.
To help with that, we ask contributors to provide each resource with a short description, information about price and / or license and credits (with a link) to the resource creators. If you want to add a resource to a specific topic or even propose a new topic altogether, that is great too. If you contribute, we will add your name (or nickname) and optionally a link to the contributors list by default, but you can opt-out too. Just mention that in your contribution.
Code of Conduct
Please, check our Code of Conduct before posting, to know more about how we aim to build this project together as a welcoming environment.
This list and website are licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license, with the exception of the logo image (under CC-BY-NC-SA). The linked resources each have their own licenses and terms.
altctrls.info is created by a community of contributors, credited below in alphabetical order. You can email the repo maintainer here.
Enric Granzotto Llagostera’s work on this project is partially funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC), as part of the Doctoral Research Scholarship 2020-B2Z-276952.