Just thinking on the whole “traditional games: threat or menace?” vibe going around… the problem I have with most of the defenders of them is an assload of cognitive dissonance, not introduced, but first heavily promoted by the White Wolf family of games. It’s the S word, in this case storytelling.
When players rely on a GM to provide a story / plot for their characters to progress through, they are not story telling, they are participating in the GM’s story. They are in exactly the same position as a player of a computer RPG.* It doesn’t matter whether the plot is preplanned, busked on the spot, whatever, if players have surrendered their immediate veto rights over the story to the GM, then they are not story telling.
Okay, notes on that include storytelling may or may not equal fun. Experiencing a story through the eyes of a participant can be great fun, if not, why would every other form of entertainment keep going so strong. RPG’s in the conventional mode provide a unique medium for story “reading”, in the broadest sense.
But they also provide means for co-operative story telling that don’t exist anywhere else. And the difference between conventional games and “forgesque” games is often not in the rules, but in the GM advice, the interpretation of the rules: Sorcerer is, for the most part, stunningly conventional in it’s bare bone mechanics. So, again for the most part, are Dogs in the Vineyard and Heroquest.
It’s in the explicit arrangement of power among players.
Anyway, I’m rambling now, off.
*ANY computer RPG.