If Alfie Kohn is right, maybe the simplistic morality of many story games is in part due to their reliance on extrinsic rewards? If a game’s interaction relies on rewards, and those rewards require “Pass/Fail” or even 1-axis outcomes of achievement, then wouldn’t we expect the story to rely on those same inputs? The narratives that fit that best are hero/villian stories and good/evil moralities.
Correspondingly, we would expect games with more then 1-axis of rewards or no explicit rewards at all to have more complicated moralities in their stories. In practice, they seem to have more complicated concepts of story in general (The Sims, Minecraft, Ultima IV) that derive more from their interactivity then their in-process narrative or post-play reflections. More fuel for the Ion Storm side of the debate, I guess, that story is the derived companion of the designer’s interaction authorship.
I still love game stories, btw. Just thinking.