As our ability to create different kinds of media evolves, our definition of what counts as a "game" becomes more and more complicated.
Back in the days of the NES, games very obviously had win conditions and sets of rules by which to achieve them. Then the RPG came along and shifted the focus to story over mechanics. As time has gone on, more and more game genres have put story at center stage, caring more about engrossing the player in a well-crafted narrative than developing jumping puzzles that make you want to tear your hair out. Furthermore, as technology becomes more advanced, game developers have gained access to the same techniques that Hollywood uses in its blockbuster movies. In fact, our graphics have become so advanced that we now have "cinematic" games that take a minimalist approach to gameplay in order to tell an amazing interactive story. Just where will these games be going in the future?
Well, as always, you can never predict the future without looking at the past, and, believe it or not, this new renaissance of cinematic games is actually just an example of the past repeating itself. Think back to the 8- and 16-bit era when games came in two very distinct varieties.
The majority of games were sold on their mechanics: Mario jumped, Mega Man took his enemies' weapons, Zelda had a save function, and Metroid stressed exploration and upgrades. Though all of these games were classic hits, none of us picked them up due to their story. No one was ready to say that Mega Man's narrative was astounding; they just enjoyed the gameplay system that narrative was set in. Heck, several people got all the way to Mega Man 3 without even knowing Mega Man was a robot!
Then there were the games that were sold on their story. These were the point-and-click adventure games and rudimentary RPGs. Monkey Island's game mechanics, for example, weren't anything to brag about; you simply pointed at a thing and clicked it, and that was pretty much the end of the gameplay experience. Heck, most point-and-click adventures can be remade in the modern day with basic HTML. Still, the stories were so charming the gaming populace became hooked. From well-known hits like Maniac Mansion to bizarre Japanese imports like Sweet Home, these games successfully managed to manipulate the emotions of their player base, even though they were limited to simple 8-bit graphics and extremely basic programming.