A great display of a new direction in games... or at least a bunch ol old directions all bundled together to create something new.
In particular I find it interesting to hear Will Wright say that "I didn't want to make players feel like Luke Skywalker or Frodo Baggins. I wanted them to be like George Lucas or J.R.R. Tolkien..."
More recently I've been thinking of story as really a side effect or a property of interesting experiences, not a prerequisite... I think we use story as a filtering process on our experience. They emphasise the causality of a situation... and we (game designers) don't necessarily have that level of control from our side, but the player does. The player's there having the experience happening to them. Also stories are very useful for portability, you know, communication. It's a way for us to take an experience that we've had, some other place, some other point in time, convey it to somebody else, and it's also in some sense a compression and abstraction where we can get general lessons that we might apply to other situations. Even though the stories don't exactly match, we can abstract up the story to schema learning.