This year at GDC, I organized a dinner, the goal of which was mostly to sit around and bullshit for a while. Malgayne has already written a post about the benefits of such a thing, which I would not attempt to duplicate.
At one point during the dinner, though, Dan C (of Lost Garden) was asking people what they had seen this year at GDC that had them excited. There was a lot of discussion about the IGF, and new ways of playing games that people were hearing about. Dan himself, I think, even mentioned a real time ocean sim that drew all of it's information from actual marine biology monitoring programs, tagging and whatnot.
It was during this conversation that I realized that I didn't really have anything to add. I mean, I could have contributed to the discussion, to be sure, but I didn't have anything, game mechanics wise, that I had seen that year that excited me.
Part of that, of course, is that I spent all my time networking, and didn't really see much new stuff, but I think it hints at a more fundamental issue, which is that game mechanics, on the whole, don't interest me much. Or, perhaps more appropriately, they interest me so much less than story.
While I could have brought up some issue of unbridled pathos that I had seen in a game recently during that discussion, and it would have made an interesting segue; it would be just that: a segue.
Though... I wonder if there's anything I could say for the quality of pathos in games recently. Is there something out there that I've been missing?