The debate over which is the better gaming system — a console or a PC — may never be resolved, but it’s hard to argue against the benefits of gaming with a keyboard and mouse, including improved accuracy. You can have the best of both worlds, however, as this clever hack that grafts a computer mouse onto a console gamepad proves.
There are undoubtedly some very talented gamers who compete with a controller in hand, but for games like first-person shooters, popular on PCs and consoles, analogue sticks with limited travel and movement, can make accurately pinpointing a target especially challenging. It’s exactly the reason that when Valve launched its Steam Box consoles it also created its innovative Steam Controller gamepad that traded a pair of analogue sticks for a set of vibrating touch-sensitive trackpads which were promised to offer as much precision as a mouse and keyboard.
As innovative as the Steam Controller was, it wasn’t a runaway hit, and back in late 2019 the remaining stocks of the controller were sold off leaving a hole that the folks behind the YouTube channel Tech Yesterday think they can fill. They’ve created their own variation on the Steam Controller that works more like a mouse and keyboard but without the desk.
The Mouse Controller V2, as it’s currently known, started life as a standard wired Xbox 360 gamepad that went under the hobby knife for some extreme modifications. About the only thing left is the original left analogue stick. The action buttons were all relocated and replaced with mechanical keyboard switches while the right analogue stick was replaced with a small four-by-four inch mouse pad. Functionally, the right analogue stick still exists, but in lieu of a stick there’s now a tiny thumb-controlled optical mouse (with its own wire tether) that was harvested from a larger gaming mouse.
As hacks go this is not a simple weekend project. The Mouse Controller featured in the video above is actually an update of the original Optical Mouse Controller first revealed back in October, and that version represented weeks of hard work and tinkering to get something that functioned as envisioned. Even version two isn’t exactly pretty, and its creators have promised that a version three is on the way that will perfect the design and functionality of this gaming Frankenstein.
Will it catch on among gamers? It’s no secret that people are willing to pay a lot of money for even the smallest of competitive advantages, and the concept here has a lot of promise, assuming it can survive the rigors of gameplay. In its current form, it looks a little delicate and probably won’t survive the rage of an angry gamer. But its creators have applied for a patent on how their custom controller functions (specifically its use of a tiny optical mouse on a handheld gamepad) so one day this could end up being more than just a clever hack.