Games Controllers

Games controllers or gamepads cover a range of devices including joysticks, Xbox controllers and even 3D mice. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, wired and wireless, with a wide range of costs. These controllers can be great fun for accessing the capabilities of Ensemble, whether for early years or as an instrument for a disabled musician. Games controllers are familiar, robust and age appropriate.

Many accessible switch interfaces are also based around joystick electronics, meaning they can work straightaway with Ensemble. Others, like the SimplyWorks range, can be put into a Gamepad or Joystick mode.

Young man playing Xbox Controller with his chin


Almost any joystick or games control device can be used with Ensemble. Wired Xbox Controllers, Buzz Game Buzzers, even RockBand drums are all just different types of joystick.

Each type of controller offers it's own set of switches and variable controllers. You can select a device to suit the player or application. For example, the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Wireless offers a very sensitive controller that requires minimal movements to control musical notes.

Xbox 360 Wireless Controller

This is an ideal wireless controller, that can be purchased with a USB receiver that plugs into your PC. The receiver provides for up to four controllers to be connected simultaneously.

Each controller has two joysticks and multiple buttons, each of which can be linked to sounds, lighting and image control through the Ensemble software. The position of a joystick can equate to a musical pitch or control the position of a moving head light.

These controllers are amazingly flexible and can also be used by a teacher or workshop leader to trigger backing loops or accompaniments.

SimplyWorks Switch Set

Switch Interfaces

Many USB switch interfaces for assistive technology use joystick electronics to make them work. This means that they work with the Ensemble software in the same way as games controllers. You can quickly and easily turn switches and interfaces you already have into music and multimedia controllers.

Other interfaces may have a gamepad mode that you can set it to, so that it appears as a series of switches. This includes popular interfaces such as the SimplyWorks range.

Music can provide a safe way to introduce someone to a new switch for the first time, allowing them to understand how much pressure is required to trigger it.

Adding your own device

Although we try to test and create our own blocks for Ensemble Designer (available for free download), we can't get our hands on every single games controller available. That's why the software lets you create your own blocks when a compatible gamepad device is plugged in.

Ensemble Device Monitor shows you all the inputs and outputs connected to your Ensemble system. If your device appears in the list, then it can be used in the software.