Hopefully we'll get to a point where gameplay and narrative are typically so interdependent that the idea of seperating one from the other and experiencing it in isolation is plainly ridiculous. Gameplay and narrative should ideally feel like two parts of the same whole, but more often than not they still feel like two seperate products which just happen to come in the same package. A game can't easily become more than the sum of its parts if those parts are seperated by clearly defined boundaries and never allowed to resonate with each other.
This is why I roll my eyes when developers come out and suggest letting you skip 'the gameplay sections' or whatever in future: to me that says that they are missing the point and fundamentally not appreciating the potential of gaming. If they're thinking in terms of a rigid 'gameplay section > narrative section > gameplay section...' structure then they are handicapping their game before they've even begun.
Gaming inherently cannot compete when it comes great storytelling, simply because storytelling requires passivity from the audience while all of the advantages of gaming rest with its interactivity. It's not that they aren't trying hard enough or just haven't figured it out yet, it's that the interactive nature of gaming puts it at too much of a disadvantage.
Where games do have the edge however -over all passive media- is not in story telling but in story facilitating. We need to stop criticising them for the former and start praising them more for the latter. If we all go read the same book we will all experience the same one story. It might be a great story but it will still be the same story. If we all go play the same game we might come out of it with a thousand great stories - the difference is that we won't be 'told' those stories, we'll be writing them ourselves. That's what can happen when games are designed to the inherent strengths of gaming rather than to the weaknesses. There are genuinely great stories to be found in gaming, but they're coming out of the likes of EVE and Crusader Kings and DayZ, not in the cutscenes of some action flick wannabe.
This deserves to be quoted.
I thought these types of arguments (by Jeff or people in this thread) would have stopped by now.
I think it's hard to truly quantify why FFXIII was one of the worst games I've ever played (relative to its production cost/value etcetera). It's like a hodge-podge of dis-likeable elements all thrown together wrapped in a childish, immature gloss. The story feels bloated, uninteresting and derivative.
The characters are portrayed poorly and generally don't talk in a halfway-realistic fashion or have anything of worth to say. Given that I spent 80 hours playing the game (as a bet with friends to finish it; which I won) it was odd that none of the characters seemed to form bonds or share any personal, small-talk or discussion that would lead to camaraderie. There was an absence of relationships between them for me.
The world building was poor. Only later segments could be roamed (albeit quite limited) and most of the game was spent walking through what felt like a cardboard cut-out of a locale. For a simple comparison, Dark Souls has quite possibly the best immersive world of this past generation of consoles. It accomplishes this through many different diegetic means as well as gross attention to detail, something I felt FFXIII sorely lacked. Additionally, very little was interactive and the interaction was often either meaningless or something like a button press to open a door.
The combat gradually found its feet and by the end of the game, hunting and fighting the mythic creatures, it took time, effort and thought to out duel some of the side bosses in particular. Additionally, as a further plus point, the use of flashbacks was handled generally well, even if I wasn't invested in what was happening and thought it was very played out.
Final note; I don't think the developers understand the importance of silence or stillness.