From direct physical interaction to hardware-based input devices
A very good resource about game controllers in Gamasutra: "Controller Mediation in Human-Computer Play". It's actually a thesis from Stanford University by Tony Thulatimutte.
In the mid-to-late-20th century, the advent of the computer game signaled the beginning of a new mode of play interaction. Whereas previously playing a game would typically involve direct physical interaction with its elements (soccer balls, billiards, chess pieces), computer games introduced the notion of using hardware input devices to produce game action, with the consequence that any arbitrary quantifiable physical input might be transduced to produce any arbitrary game output. Computer input devices are therefore novel intermediaries in games and the act of play, and the psychological and qualitative impacts of their design and usage on players, as well as their symbolic role in an increasingly mediated society, are the topics of this paper.
Why do I blog this? it's a good discussion of game controller practices, design and evolution, which fits very well into some projects with what I do for video game companies.