I believe gameplay can be broken down into two fundamentals which should describe how a game functions and what it delivers. Experience and Interaction. A video game is, and should be designed so that the audience has some degree of INPUT, ie through a game pad or camera, allowing the gamer to 'interact', and from this interraction will recieve OUTPUT from the 'experience' which the game delivers.
So, what do the words game and play actually mean independantly? and does this have any relevance to words when together?
GAME = An activity providing entertainment or amusement.
PLAY = To occupy oneself in amusement, spot or other recreation.
To me this proves my theory, 'an activity PROVIDING entertainment' describes something or an experience being delivered, and 'to OCCUPY oneself' describes an interaction with the chosen activity.
For me it isn't a question of wether or not gameplay is important, i believe that gameplay is a part of all video games, but that the levels of I and E delivered by video games differe massivley, and it is a gamers choice of what level of interaction he/she is hoping for and what experience he/she requires of what level of I and E a game developer choses to include in their game in the first place depending on their target audience.
I do feel that in the past gameplay has followed a generic pattern but recently we have seen a shift in how gameplay is being delivered. We have seen a new genre flourish and even new consoles desinged around giving the gamer a higher level of 'interactive experince' such as the Nintendo Wii's and PS3's motion controllers, the Nintendo DS's touch screen and the PS3's Playstation Eye.