The ability to remap buttons is a key feature in game design. In making games more accessible we often want to remap keys, buttons and other inputs. Many developers add remapping of keys into their game settings, but not all do and so sometimes a simple remap, like remapping the arrow keys to WASD done yourself can make a game playable. More unusual projects, like using a Wiimote as a mouse, is not something found in naturally as part of a game, but it can be added and a number of programs that can help make this possible. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses and when selecting a program to be aware of what it can and cannot do.
This is a free Windows program that was originally developed to allow use of a P5 virtual reality glove with the PC but was expanded when the Wii remote, the Wiimote became popular. It has since grown to cover a very wide variety of different input and output methods, including voice control and music keyboards.
It is not the easiest program to use and the UI (user interface) isn’t exactly modern – to say nothing of its confusing documentation and website but its flexibility keeps it a market leader. GlovePIE can do almost anything you would ever want it to do, but you might have to put a lot of time into tweaking it to be perfect.
This is another Windows only program. It is very flexible when it comes to text expansion and macros. It can handle remapping mice, joysticks and keyboards but will not work as well with more unusual input methods.
It is relatively easy to use and its UI and website are modern and self explanatory with some excellent guides and support.
XPadder is again Windows software that lets you simulate the mouse and keyboard using a gamepad. The software is simple and very graphical so if remapping is all you want to do and you don’t want to work with scripts, it is a good alternative.
It also allows for multiple controllers at the same time (up to 16!) which gives it multiplayer possibilities. They have an online forum but it has seen very little activity over the past couple of years.
Windows software designed to let you control Windows and programs using a joystick instead of a mouse. It is unashamedly joystick only, but within that allows you to set up multiple profiles which can be manually or automatically switched for different programs.
It is relatively simple and if using a standard joystick as a mouse (and extra keys as keyboard keys) is the only thing you are after this is a good solution.
ControllerMate (Mac OSX)
This for the Mac OSX 10.6 and later (although there is a legacy version for OSX 10.4/5). ControllerMate is the Mac equivalent of GlovePIE and looks as complicated.
Like most Mac software it has a far more beautiful UI (user interface) and website with an active forum and very well written documentation and information available. If you are looking for a Mac solution this is probably it.
Cost: $24.99 (full version), limited free version.
These programs scratch the surface of software remapping tools, there are a great many more. Some are designed for a specific piece of hardware, others to fill a specific purpose and neither consider the hardware remapping tools and special features in most gaming keyboards and controllers. We use GlovePIE and AutoHotKey as we make use of the flexibility they offer when trying various different adaptive and remapping options. All of the pieces of software on the list fill a good niche, choose whichever software best fits your needs.
This article was first published on 1 February 2013 and last updated on 6 June 2017.