I'm a little too lazy this evening to think of a proper introduction to my argument, so I'll cut right to the chase: video games have to be fun.
I'm not saying games can't ever be more than fun, or that they shouldn't be fun. I love something that really makes me think. Something that really leaves a lasting impression beyond "man, I just totally stabbed that guy's face 30 times" or whatever. I'm totally down for games using all kinds of artistic expression. I love that shit.
But the thing that separates video games from, say, movies is that second word; game, and that's where things become a real pain in the ass. Games are intended to be fun. That's the whole point. That's why we invented baseball and battleship and poker.
So there's a problem: how can you design a game that's supposed to be "more than fun" or instill it with some kind of meaning while still entertaining the player? You don't read any newspaper articles about a whole new Othello game designed to change your perspective on the universe because people don't play Othello to get anything out of it besides an hour or two of fun.
But video games are unique because, at some point, everyone started looking at other mediums (mostly movies) and tried pulling ideas and techniques from those mediums and exploring different ideas. It's really impressive, and it's something I'm proud to have witnessed as someone who's absolutely smitten by the medium. But if you're designing something that isn't fun first and "deep" (or whatever you're going for) second, you neuter the experience. Which is more enjoyable: reading chunks of text in books, or the last level in Braid? Personally, I think the chunks of text are a huge waste of potential, while the last level was something really clever and blended interactivity and storytelling quite well.
I realize, however, that people find all kinds of fun in all kinds of ways, while I'm not disagreeing with Anthony and agree that games should try to be more than what they are right now, I think that "fun" should still be the main ingredient of a game. You don't make a cake out of nothing but frosting (or beef, or anything that isn't actual cake), but you can put other stuff in, on, or around the cake...or something.
My point is that if a game isn't supposed to be fun, if enjoyment isn't the primary goal, then it's might as well not be a game at all. There are all sorts of interactive art forms that aren't games at all. But Joe the Gamer didn't buy a video game console so he could play things that aren't video games. I'm not denying games of their right to explore, artistically or intellectually, and I'd love if we could avoid a fate similar to comic books, but sometimes I feel like a developer gets so wrapped up in their vision that they forget all about the game part of the fricken' video game.