Working with other input devices

pyglet’s input module allows you to accept input from any USB human interface device (HID). High-level abstractions are provided for working with game controllers, joysticks, and the Apple Remote. The game controller abstraction is suited for modern gamepads, such as are found on home video game consoles. These types of controllers have a strictly defined set of inputs. The joystick abstraction is more generalized, and works with devices with an arbitrary number of buttons, axis, and hats. This includes devices like steering wheels, joysticks used for flight simulators, and just about anything else. For most types of games, the Controller abstraction is usually the better choice. For advanced use cases, it’s also possible to access the low-level devices directly.

The input module provides several methods for querying devices, and a ControllerManager class for hot-plugging of Controllers:

# get a list of all low-level devices:
devices = pyglet.input.get_devices()

# get a list of all controllers:
controllers = pyglet.input.get_controllers()

# get a list of all joysticks:
joysticks = pyglet.input.get_controllers()

# get a list of tablets:
tablets = pyglet.input.get_tablets()

# get an Apple Remote, if available:
remote = pyglet.input.get_apple_remote()

# create a ControllerManager instance:
controller_manager = pyglet.input.ControllerManager()

Using Controllers

Controllers have a strictly defined set of inputs that mimic the layout of popular video game console Controllers. This includes two analog sticks, a directional pad (dpad), face and shoulder buttons, as well as start/back/guide and stick press buttons. Many controllers also include the ability to play rumble effects (vibration). The following platform interfaces are used for Controller support:

platform interface notes
Linux evdev  
Windows DirectInput & Xinput rumble not implemented on DirectInput
MacOSX IOKit rumble not yet implemented

Before using a controller, you must find it and open it. A ControllerManager class is provided to allow hot-plugging of Controllers, but they can also be opened manually. To manually get a list of all controllers currently connected to your computer, call pyglet.input.get_controllers():

controllers = pyglet.input.get_controllers()

Then choose a controller from the list and call to open it:

if controllers:
    controller = controllers[0]

Once opened, you you can start receiving data from the the inputs. A variety of analog and digital Control types are defined, which are automatically normalized to consistent ranges. The following analog controls are available:

name type range
leftx float -1,1
lefty float -1,1
rightx float -1,1
righty float -1,1
lefttrigger float 0,1
lefttrigger float 0,1

The following digital controls are available:

Name notes
a the “south” face button
b the “east” face button
x the “west” face button
y the “north” face button
start called “options” on some controllers
back called “select” or “share” on some controllers
guide usually in the center, with a company logo
leftstick pressing in the left analog stick
rightstick pressing in the right analog stick

These values can be read in two ways. All controls listed above are properties on the controller instance, so they can be manually queried in your game loop:

controller_instance.a       # boolean
controller_instance.leftx   # float

Alternatively, since controllers are a subclass of EventDispatcher, events will be dispatched when any of the values change. This is generally the recommended way to handle input, since it reduces the chance of “missed” button presses due to slow polling. The different controls are grouped into the following event types:

Event Arguments types
on_button_press controller, button_name Controller, str
on_button_release controller, button_name Controller, str
on_stick_motion controller, stick_name, x_value, y_value Controller, str, float, float
on_dpad_motion controller, left, right, up, down Controller, bool, bool, bool, bool
on_trigger_motion controller, trigger_name, value Controller, str, float

Here is how you would handle the analog events:

def on_stick_motion(controller, name, x_value, y_value):
    # Optionally enforce a "deadzone"

    if name == "leftstick":
        # Do something with the x/y_values
    elif name == "rightstick":
        # Do something with the x/y_values

def on_trigger_motion(controller, name, value):

    if name == "lefttrigger":
        # Do something with the value
    elif name == "righttrigger":
        # Do something with the value

Here is how you would handle the digital events:

def on_button_press(controller, button_name):
    if button_name == 'a':
        # start firing
    elif button_name == 'b':
        # do something else

def on_button_release(controller, button_name):
    if button_name == 'a':
        # stop firing
    elif button_name == 'b':
        # do something else

Finally, the directional pad event can be handled like this:

def on_dpad_motion(controller, dpleft, dpright, dpup, dpdown):
    if dpup:
        # move up
    if dpdown:
        # move down
    if dpleft:
        # move left
    if dpright:
        # move right


Many controllers also support playing rumble (vibration) effects. There are both strong and weak effects, which can be played independently:

controller.rumble_play_weak(strength, duration=0.5)
controller.rumble_play_strong(strength, duration=0.5)

The strength parameter should be on a scale of 0-1. Values outside of this range will be clamped. The optional duration parameter is in seconds. The maximum duration can vary from platform to platform, but is usually at least 5 seconds. If you call play again while an existing effect is still playing, it will replace the current one. You can also stop playback of a rumble effect at any time:



To simplify hot-plugging of Controllers, the ControllerManager class is available. This class has a get_controllers() method to be used in place of pyglet.input.get_controllers(). There are also on_connect and on_disconnect events, which dispatch a Controller instance whenever one is connected or disconnected. If case a previously connected Controller is re-connected, the same instance will be returned when possible.

To use a ControllerManager, first create an instance:

manager = pyglet.input.ControllerManager()

You can then query the currently connected controllers, similar to doing it directly:

controllers = manager.get_controllers()

As usual, choose a controller from the list and call to open it:

if controllers:
    controller = controllers[0]

To handle controller connections, attach handlers to the following methods:

def on_connect(controller):
    print(f"Connected:  {controller}")

def on_disconnect(controller):
    print(f"Disconnected:  {controller}")


If you are using a ControllerManager, then you should not use pyglet.input.get_controllers() directly. The results are undefined. Use ControllerManager.get_controllers() instead.

Using Joysticks

Before using a joystick, you must find it and open it. To get a list of all joystick devices currently connected to your computer, call pyglet.input.get_joysticks():

joysticks = pyglet.input.get_joysticks()

Then choose a joystick from the list and call to open the device:

if joysticks:
    joystick = joysticks[0]

The current position of the joystick is recorded in its ‘x’ and ‘y’ attributes, both of which are normalized to values within the range of -1 to 1. For the x-axis, x = -1 means the joystick is pushed all the way to the left and x = 1 means the joystick is pushed to the right. For the y-axis, a value of y = -1 means that the joystick is pushed up and a value of y = 1 means that the joystick is pushed down.

If your joystick has two analog controllers, the position of the second controller is typically given by z and rz, where z is the horizontal axis position and rz is the vertical axis position.

The state of the joystick buttons is contained in the buttons attribute as a list of boolean values. A True value indicates that the corresponding button is being pressed. While buttons may be labeled A, B, X, or Y on the physical joystick, they are simply referred to by their index when accessing the buttons list. There is no easy way to know which button index corresponds to which physical button on the device without testing the particular joystick, so it is a good idea to let users change button assignments.

Each open joystick dispatches events when the joystick changes state. For buttons, there is the on_joybutton_press() event which is sent whenever any of the joystick’s buttons are pressed:

def on_joybutton_press(joystick, button):

and the on_joybutton_release() event which is sent whenever any of the joystick’s buttons are released:

def on_joybutton_release(joystick, button):

The Joystick parameter is the Joystick instance whose buttons changed state (useful if you have multiple joysticks connected). The button parameter signifies which button changed and is simply an integer value, the index of the corresponding button in the buttons list.

For most games, it is probably best to examine the current position of the joystick directly by using the x and y attributes. However if you want to receive notifications whenever these values change you should handle the on_joyaxis_motion() event:

def on_joyaxis_motion(joystick, axis, value):

The Joystick parameter again tells you which joystick device changed. The axis parameter is string such as “x”, “y”, or “rx” telling you which axis changed value. And value gives the current normalized value of the axis, ranging between -1 and 1.

If the joystick has a hat switch, you may examine its current value by looking at the hat_x and hat_y attributes. For both, the values are either -1, 0, or 1. Note that hat_y will output 1 in the up position and -1 in the down position, which is the opposite of the y-axis control.

To be notified when the hat switch changes value, handle the on_joyhat_motion() event:

def on_joyhat_motion(joystick, hat_x, hat_y):

The hat_x and hat_y parameters give the same values as the joystick’s hat_x and hat_y attributes.

A good way to use the joystick event handlers might be to define them within a controller class and then call:


Please note that you need a running application event loop for the joystick button an axis values to be properly updated. See the The application event loop section for more details on how to start an event loop.

Using the Apple Remote

The Apple Remote is a small infrared remote originally distributed with the iMac. The remote has six buttons, which are accessed with the names left, right, up, down, menu, and select. Additionally when certain buttons are held down, they act as virtual buttons. These are named left_hold, right_hold, menu_hold, and select_hold.

To use the remote, first call get_apple_remote():

remote = pyglet.input.get_apple_remote()

Then open it:

if remote:, exclusive=True)

The remote is opened in exclusive mode so that while we are using the remote in our program, pressing the buttons does not activate Front Row, or change the volume, etc. on the computer.

The following event handlers tell you when a button on the remote has been either pressed or released:

def on_button_press(button):

def on_button_release(button):

The button parameter indicates which button changed and is a string equal to one of the ten button names defined above: “up”, “down”, “left”, “left_hold”, “right”, “right_hold”, “select”, “select_hold”, “menu”, or “menu_hold”.

To use the remote, you may define code for the event handlers in some controller class and then call:


Low-level Devices

It’s usually easier to use the high-level interfaces but, for specialized hardware, the low-level device can be accessed directly. You can query the list of all devices, and check the name attribute to find the correct device:

for device in pyglet.input.get_devices():

After identifying the Device you wish to use, you must first open it:

Devices contain a list of Control objects. There are three types of controls: Button, AbsoluteAxis, and RelativeAxis. For helping identify individual controls, each control has at least a name, and optionally a raw_name attribute. Control values can by queried at any time by checking the Control.value property. In addition, every control is also a subclass of EventDispatcher, so you can add handlers to receive changes as well. All Controls dispatch the on_change event. Buttons also dispatch on_press and on_release events.:

# All controls:

def on_change(value):
    print("value:", value)

# Buttons:

def on_press():
    print("button pressed")

def on_release():
    print("button release")