Xbox One controller (before modding)

One of the questions I frequently get is “how do you excavate a video game”? This post will show you how it’s done from the hardware side of things with a bit of DIY modifications to bring not only practical tools to the archaeogamer, but also augmented reality to the excavation of any video game you choose to dig. Here’s how:


Take your Xbox One controller (I will do a future post on modding the PS 4, which is completely different) and some twine. (I guess you could call this a twine game?) Start with your favorite tool (no, not Ian Hodder, silly, something like a trowel or pick). Attach the tool to the controller, and then turn it on. CAUTION: Do NOT turn the controller on prior to modding it. DANGER.

Trowel Mod

In the trowel mod above, note that the edge is pointing away from you. This means you have modded your controller correctly. As you play, hold the left trigger to use and press A to extract material.

Pick Mod

Another favorite mod of mine is the pick mod. Learn from my mistake: in the heat of archaeogaming do not hastily bring the modded controller towards your head. I know that half-buried column drum has got you in the throes of anticipation, but DANGER.

Tape Mod

It’s no secret that archaeologists love to measure stuff. We have to. I measure something every day. With the tape mod, you can measure up to twelve inches of archaeogaming goodness directly on the screen. Other mods you can try (CAUTION: start small) include a larger tape mod that can measure several feet, and a stadia rod mod, which can help you measure the curve of a procedurally generated planet.

Pencil Mod

When you’re ready to record your findings, switch out whatever mod you’ve been using with the pencil mod. It’s not just a mechanical pencil: it’s digital! Use the left trigger to activate the mod, and the left stick to write letters, the right stick to draw freehand. The right button gives you more lead. RADICAL!

Beer Mod

A lot (not all) of archaeologists enjoy a beer or two after a hot day of archaeogaming. This beer mod is almost as good as the real thing! CAUTION: Do NOT use the beer mod when excavating driving games such as Forza Motorsport 6. DANGER.

To unmod your controller so your little brother or sister can pwn you in #IDARB, simply cut or unwind the twine. CAUTION: Make sure the controller is off prior to unmodding it or you will lose your data. All of it. DANGER. Learn from my mistakes.

I hope you have found this post useful. If you have other archaeogaming mods like these to share, please leave them in the Comments below.

Thanks, and have a good April Fools’.

-Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming


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