Over at Tom's Hardware, there has been a debate about plot in games, where one of the arguments was that Gaming, as its own medium, should not try to emulate the storytelling of a book or a movie. The supporting evidence was that there are few-to-no original storylines in games, just a lot of cliches, some with a twist of two thrown in. Instead, it was argued that the challenges presented by gameplay should be the defining characteristic of a game.
I could simply dismiss this argument, but there may be some merit to it. I personally find that storytelling in games 'works' for me. For some it won't; they will never buy into the world created by a game, and they just want to shoot something. Those games should exist, but I agree with the camp of gamers who believe that stories add something to gaming that you can't get otherwise. One problem with most game stories is that they can only be so dynamic - look at Half-Life 2, or FEAR, or PREY - games with deep stories tend to be linear. RPGs are the exception, but only insofar as you can change NPC reactions, or choose multiple endings. I've just seen a trailer for Mass Effect, which looks to be the game I have long waited for...only it appears to be an XBOX 360 exclusive. KHAAAAAAAAAN!
Anyhow, I think that the key is going to be some kind of convergence. I love shooters, but I do find myself taken out of the game by how linear they are at times. If anyone can blend the storyTELLING of Half-Life / Half-Life 2 with more freedom of movement, it will prove that gaming has come into its own. Imagine, if you will, the ability to navigate your own path through Black Mesa, or City 17. Obviously, i am not asking for ALL of these places to be available, but having the ability to roam a bit would increase the immersion factor by an incredible amount. Now, it sounds obvious, and you'll probably say "but what about all the extra work?" I think that covering the same total surface area, but with less travel is a price I'd be willing to pay for non-linearity.
Also, more RPG-shooter hybrids like Vampire - the Masquerade: Bloodlines would be awesome.