I've got an standard interface (DB-15 analog) joystick connector on my Windows XP gaming system. It works fine for DOS applications (booting into DOS directly, not using XP at all). However, nothing in XP detects it. Since DOS games can talk to it, it must be hardware compatible. Does XP need a special driver for legacy joystick support/how can I use it for my XP games?

  • What does Device Manager list it as? – CSM Dec 4 '17 at 21:48
  • @CSM It only shows "Standard Game Port" in device manager (both before and after the solution) – Brian Knoblauch Dec 4 '17 at 23:48

It looks like you need to explicitly add the device - i.e., it isn't plug 'n play like USB or even like a lot of older devices (e.g., mice & keyboards on PS/2 ports).

Microsoft: To install a game port game controller

  • If this is the answer, I think we'll need a canonical question for "Why won't this non-USB device work?" (with an answer very similar to this and a different question) which we then close this one as a duplicate of. I'm thinking ahead though, just documenting it here. Thanks for the answer. – wizzwizz4 Dec 4 '17 at 19:20
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    @wizzwizz4 I can't say for sure if this is the answer as I don't have a joystick/game port to test it with myself at the moment. However, from the link it appears that Game Controller is a special case, a little different from, for example, connecting a network printer (typically Windows has drivers that will auto-detect the same printer if connected USB) or a monitor (where the auto-detect may not detect the exact monitor but will generically work in standard VGA mode anyway). – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Dec 4 '17 at 20:10
  • Perfect. As soon as I read that site it all came back. It's just been soooo many years since I've gamed on XP! Yeah, the game port is a special case. XP sees the port, but doesn't even try to associate a joystick object with it, you have to manually add that as in the link. – Brian Knoblauch Dec 4 '17 at 23:49
  • @BrianKnoblauch IIRC GAME port Joysticks in XP must be added manually too. It was done in dx diag (direct input) or control panel (not sure anymore which one). Just add any 2/3/4 axis controller (yes they sometimes used word controller for Joysticks too)... and then you need to calibrate it (in the same app that adds it). Sadly they stopped shipping GAME ports with new PCs the last one piece of HW that had it I know of was sound blaster Live. Still have one stored somewhere with my old Joystick... I used GAME port a lot back in the days as ADC converter for my home made scanner... – Spektre Dec 5 '17 at 9:14
  • Does this answer apply to Windows 95 as well? – OmarL Dec 7 '17 at 16:38

The DA-15 Joystick port (BTW, not to be confused with the AUI ethernet connector, which is also a DA-15 with additional locking hardware!) has no standardized provision to detect what is connected to it. The standard PC implementation of such a port (basically a bunch of 555 timers that are tuned by the variable resistors in the joystick) cannot even reliably detect if anything AT ALL is connected to it, a game port with nothing connected will just present nonsensical data to software.

Hence, the OS, if it supports the game port hardware at all (Post-XP Windows by default will not work with the standard PC implementation!), needs to be manually configured for the type and number of joysticks connected.

Also, the legacy (standard) type of game port is non-autodetectable hardware in itself. Actually, there seems to be no easy way even for a configured driver to ascertain whether it is reading from an installed game port or reading garbage data off the bus in its absence. This is the likely reason modern OSes will not by default support it, since a misconfigured or autoprobing driver could potentially cause a severe hardware crash (eg if some other legacy hardware uses some of the I/O resources that a multi-port gameport card would use).

The same is basically true for your DOS games, with the differences that a) DOS simply choses not to involve itself at all with the game port, and b) the games bring their own driver that is set up with reasonable defaults, and relies on the user having installed their gameport hardware correctly.

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    Note that if the Game Port is on a PCI sound card, motherboard supporting ACPI, or ISA PnP sound card then it's possible for the the OS to detect the device through these devices' plug and play mechanism. – user722 Dec 7 '17 at 17:38
  • Ahhh, ISAPNP, an era which we all tried hard to forget :) – rackandboneman Dec 8 '17 at 0:51

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