Minecraft was originally released way back in 2011 as a game that seemed simple on its surface. But, just like the vast in-game Underworld, Minecraftturned out to have surprising depth. In 2014, Microsoft purchased developer Mojang and the rights to the Minecraft intellectual property for whopping $2.5 billion USD. Today, Minecraft is the best-selling video game in history, and has more than 112 million monthly active players. Because of its popularity and the creative nature of the gameplay, innumerable mods have been released for Minecraft. This pickaxe motion controller, built by YouTuber Insert Controller Here, is one of the coolest additions to the game we’ve seen.
This pickaxe started as a toy from a big-box store, and is, of course, modeled after the iconic in-game Minecraft pickaxe. As cool as that was, it was just a hunk of plastic that didn’t actually do anything. The goal of this project, as with all of Insert Controller Here’s builds, was to turn that into a functional video game controller. To accomplish that, two important components were used: a microcontroller development board and a motion sensor. Three buttons are also connected that can be used to alter the function of the controller.
The microcontroller development board, which appears to be an Arduino Micro, shows up as a mouse when it’s connected to a computer. The motion sensor detects how the pickaxe is moved, and then translates those into mouse movements. The three buttons determine how those movements are interpreted. For example, if one button is held down, swinging the controller causes the character to swing their pickaxe. Some commands do still need to be given via the keyboard, but this custom controller can replace the mouse entirely. As the creator points out, this won’t help you win any tournaments, but it does work well enough for normal gameplay.