I remember when I took a unit on writing for film, how we were told, “Don’t tell me, show me.”
Well, I think this needs to be expanded upon for the sake of differentiating between films (or tv shows) and games.
Books: Tell me.
Film: Show me.
Games: Let me find out for myself.
It may seem obvious, but when this is properly understood, will we really have any need for epic cut-scenes that do anything more than literally set the scene? I’m not talking about getting rid of all cut-scenes: for example, the intro for Left 4 Dead is highly effective at showing a variety of scenarios and special infected, while hinting at ways of dealing with them. In that sense, “show me” has superceded “tell me,” while remaining short and setting the scene. We do need some sort of introduction, some sort of illustration of how to play, but first and foremost, we should encourage players to feel more involved than watching a film.