Regarding Arduino, it can't really be easier. Every time the Arduino team is about to release a new board, we expect something great in terms of better specs, more I/Os, a faster processor, maybe more memory... or well, just something to “fill the gap”, such as small-scale versions. But we wouldn't expect something even easier. Wait... here comes “Esplora”!
The brand new Esplora consists of a gamepad shaped development board including an Arduino-compatible ATmega32u4, a light sensor, a temperature sensor, an accelerometer, a joystick, some pushbuttons, a slider, an RGB LED and a buzzer. A quick look to the wide range of gaming applications made with the different Arduino products over the World makes easy to understand the target of Esplora. It is provided as a ready-to-use solution for those who don't want to deal with soldering or prototyping by means of discrete components. In fact, it comes pre-programmed with a controller script, so we will only have to connect it to the PC, download the free game “Super Tux Cart”, and have fun. Besides, an additional color LCD will be released soon in order to create our own portable console. The only flaw is that standard Arduino shields cannot be connected directly, mainly because of space limitations, but the board itself includes enough features to make it interesting already.
Esplora seems like a pretty complete way to implement a controller for almost any application we could think of. In our case, I'm sure it will bring back nice memories when we were too young for the soldering iron, but not for the gamepad!