First things first. This isn't an attempt to bring back the "are games art?" question, which never ends well. Art's such a subjective word that the discussion invariably ends up chasing its own tail.
I've done a topic on this before, but I think enough new things have come out since that it's worth talking about it again.
So, the big question:
Are games good at telling stories? If not, how can they be?
Let's be honest, an awful lot of games treat story as an afterthought, and most of what they do have is based on wish-fulfillment rather than trying to do anything interesting. I'm not really sure there's a lot to discuss when a game shows you a cut scene of your character yelling at the sky and then gets back to letting you kill things. If you disagree, though, then by all means post about it.
The thing that does concern me is the question of how games can tell stories in a way that films or books or comics can't. To me, if you tell your story entirely in cutscenes, you're missing an opportunity, since you're simply telling your story like a film.
Let's look at a few games that tried to do something different:
Shadow of the Colossus
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Now, Ico, Colossus, Bioshock, Portal, Braid and, from what I hear, the Metal Gear Solids all have a particular approach to trying to tell an interesting story that wouldn't work in another medium: they use the player's assumptions about the natures of games against the player.
Yes, this is intresting, and it can be smart, effective, and memorable, but it's also got one big problem: it's recursive. Telling this kind of story relies on the majority of games being bad at storytelling and making the player aware of this fact. It's more a work of criticism than a narrative.
Planescape: Torment and, from what I hear, Heavy Rain have an approach that tries to take the basic idea of nonlinearity and interactivity and run with it. Both games remove the possiblity of losing (with mixed success in Torment's case) and instead try to focus on the long-term impacts of the player's choices.
Unlike the above, theese are actually trying to tell a story themselves rather than deconstruct one, but the argument often made by their detractors is that they boil down to nothing more than a very complicated choose-your-own adventure book. I'm not sure how much I agree. Do you?
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories takes a slightly different angle by having many of the choices the player is presented with be less-than-obvious, so that the game is changing the story based on things you don't realise you're doing. This is a much subtler approach, and one I'd very much like to see copied and improved upon, but it's debateable how much it makes sense outside the confines of the psychological horror genre.
So, how should games tell stories? Should they even be trying to at all?