I like playing games on my Mac, but as a console gamer at heart, I much prefer the joypad to the keyboard and mouse. In particular, racing games like Dirt 2 -- recently acquired as part of the awesome Feral bundle -- just don't feel right to me controlling them with a keyboard. Not to mention the immense discomfort I'm feeling after a session. The solution; hooking up a controller. And, since the Xbox 360 controller is common, not that expensive, and easy to connect, that's the route I went. So, lets show you how you can do it too.
I'm using a wired Xbox 360 controller, but you can use a wireless one but you'll need to purchase a receiver to plug into your Mac. Since the wired controller has a standard USB port on the end, it seemed like the easiest option. To make it work, you're going to need to pick up a driver. The one we want is the Tattiebogle driver. Download the latest disk image, open it up and go through the install process. Once completed, your Mac will require a restart.
- Download the Tattiebogle Xbox 360 controller driver
UPDATE: Tattiebogle hasn't been updated since OS X Snow Leopard and doesn't seem to work on Yosemite. However, there's a GitHub repo that fixes the unofficial support unofficially:
When you're back up and running, opening up the System Preferences pane, you'll see a new option under Other named "Xbox 360 Controllers." This is where you check that the controller is working, and can set it up to your liking by inverting the axis on the analog sticks on the controller. For some games, this is all you'll need to do. Dirt 2, for example, has gamepad support built in and so the controller works perfectly with it once you select it as the preferred control method for the game.
For the times your controller isn't supported out of the box, something like Joystick Mapper or Gamepad Companion could be your salvation. Available to download via the Mac App Store, Joystick Mapper sells for $4.99 and Gamepad Companion is $7.99. Their purpose is to configure your controller to act as a keyboard and mouse, with you getting the chance to dictate which buttons map to which keyboard presses.
That's about all she wrote. From here on out you should be good to go with your Xbox 360 controller and your Mac games. If you've hooked up a game controller to your Mac, let us know what it is, how you did it and why you like it in the comments below!
Note: Published May 2013, updated November 2014.