The multiple arcade machine emulator, or MAME, is used to play cabinet arcade games on a computer. By default, MAME uses your computer's keyboard as its game pad. This can get a little tedious as keyboard buttons are small and tightly packed together. You can also use a USB controller or game pad as a way to control the arcade games. While you cannot simply plug it in and use the USB controller right away, the process of making the USB controller a recognizable device to MAME is simple.
Connect the USB controller to the computer running the MAME emulator. Click the "Start" button and the "My Computer" button from the start menu.
Open the "C:" drive from the "My Computer" screen, then open the "Users" folder. Open the "My Documents" folder and locate the "INI" folder. This is where the MAME configuration document is.
Open the ".ini" file by double-clicking it. The file will open in a text editor. Find the "joystick 0" line of text in the ".ini" file and change the "0" to a "1." This will allow the MAME emulator to recognize the USB controller. Save the ".ini" file and close it.
Start the MAME emulator, then start one of your MAME games using the emulator. Press the "TAB" key on your keyboard to bring up a menu while playing the game. Select the "Input General" option and you will be shown a list of controls.
Click each control once and push the corresponding button on the USB controller that you want to use. Continue until you have mapped out each button to the USB controller. Press the "ESC" key on the keyboard to save the settings. You can now use the USB controller to play your MAME arcade games.