From Damion Schubert's (Bioware designer) wonderful Zen of Design blog.
All this being said, narrative is a red herring in the discussion of games as art.Let’s put it this way: can oil paintings succeed without great cinematography? Can classical music be great without a killer screenplay? Can a Ming vase be great without compelling characters?These are very silly questions.
Each artistic medium has its own rules for what makes that particular craft capture the viewers eye and imagination.For video games, narrative is an exceptionally powerful tool – one used exceptionally well in Knights of the Old Republic and Starcraft, for example. But I posit that many games without story, games like Civilization and Minesweeper, are elegant, artful games with barely a lick of developer-provided narrative. The art found in these games is less about what you find in a movie theater, and more about what you find in an ancient Chinese puzzle box.