This evening with the kids, somewhere between the Wiimote and RC Simulator controller, or perhaps the DS stylus or Guitar Hero axe, I realized that all real innovation in the videogame industry these days seems to be in input devices. As the industry finds it harder and harder to come up with really new gameplay modes on-screen (I thought Gears of War was basically an updated Area 51), the spread of dedicated controllers that make you get off the couch and move are reinventing the medium and creating an excitement about gaming I haven't see in years.
Beyond the above, there's the DDR dancepad, the Sixaxis controller, the Xbox Live Cam and the Nunchuck. And that's just current gen in our house. In the past we've played with everything from the Steel Battalion control panel to a light saber game.
The only downside of this wave of UI innovation is that each game costs more and when you're done with it you've got a useless piece of hardware to go with your useless plastic disc. But the upside is that we're interacting with games in a way we never have before and the intuitive nature of these dedicated input devices is making gameplay more natural--less cerebral and more physical. In other words, it's all more fun. Which was supposed the be the point all along.