Using a Mouse and Keyboard for Console Games

I play games everywhere – on PC and on consoles. I appreciate both the flexibility of the PC, and the no-nonsense simplicity of console gaming. However, sometimes I really want to use a mouse and keyboard to play games that are only available on consoles! In this article, I’ll show you how I modded a controller to allow me to use a mouse and keyboard with my Xbox One.

Video Overview & Demo

I streamed a few minutes of play and some explanations of the hardware in action, come check it out!

Part 1: Introduction & Alternate Solutions

Consoles and PCs both have their advantages – console games tend to work better on big TVs, where you can lean back and hang out on the couch with friends. PC games tend to do better with the finer grain control allowed by more complex input devices like mice and keyboards. Sometimes, though, games are only available for consoles that you’d really rather play with PC peripherals – I feel this way about console shooters a lot.

Console manufacturers aren’t exactly welcoming of the use of alternative input devices to control their boxes. Thus, I had to go to some extremes in order to make this work.

I’ll put this disclaimer up front: I am not a lawyer, and I don’t know if using a modified controller will get you banned from whatever game or online service you use it with. I did this as a project for my own entertainment, and I have no intention of using it to violate and service agreements or anything of that nature. There’s still some chance you could get banned or wreck your controller/console. Proceed at your own risk.

Alternatives to my Hack

Before we jump into my “overly complicated, because I can, dammit” solution, I’ll call out a couple of alternatives.

Commercial Solution: Titan One

xbox-one-mouse-keyboard-titan-one

The first is a “turnkey” solution called the Titan One (Amazon Link). It runs around $60-70 or so, but it’s plug and play. This device can take practically any type of input – controllers, mouse + keyboard, etc, and make it look like a valid controller for any supported console. I haven’t tried this, but it gets pretty good reviews. If you’re just not into soldering and writing software, this might be the easiest (but most expensive) way to get there.

The Titan One sits between the controller and the console, and I’m guessing it intercepts the commands sent from the controller, modifying them to incorporate the inputs from the mouse and keyboard.

Open Source Solution: GIMX

xbox-one-mouse-keyboard-gimx

Second is an open source project called GIMX or “Game Input Multiplexer.” I first read about this over on Hackaday. You’ll need to build or buy a couple of small bits of hardware for this. I picked up the parts for about $10 on eBay, although I haven’t yet tried the software. There was a tiny bit of soldering involved, but honestly it would be a good project for someone just getting to know a soldering iron. If you pay a bit more, you can probably get the boards shipped with the headers already soldered on.

The hardware that works with GIMX uses an Arduino board to fake a controller plugged into your console. The Arduino board is controlled via a serial to USB adapter, which is plugged into a PC. The PC can then send commands to the Arduino board, which mimics inputs to the console.

Now that we know what we want to do, and ways that we could solve the problem, let’s move on and I’ll explain what I did and what makes it unique.

Onward to Part 2: Hardware Design

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