Emily Short has an interesting response up to some comments made by Playfirst's John Welch in a recent Gamasutra article. The issue at stake? Welch's assertion that Playfirst has introduced 'narrative' to games such as Diner Dash. Short's response? 'This made my eyelids twitch.' What's the difference between narrative and fiction? Short argues that games like Diner Dash have a fiction attached to them, but are sorely lacking on the narrative bit, which she feels can add something to currently lacking casual games:
I realise that my take on this isn't as statistically significant as whatever market research Playfirst and similar companies may be doing. But I can't help thinking that narrative — real narrative, in which interesting and varied things happen, and the ending isn't just another predictable apotheosis when your character has carried her 20,000th plate — does answer the "why did I do that?" question. It gives the player something of value to take away from the experience, something to remember and think about, which is of far more value than any arbitrary form of status a casual game could confer.
To do that, the solution isn't necessarily to add more modes and structural features to the format. That bloats the system, and I can understand why it might put off new casual players. It's also, fortunately, not required.
She does mention a few games that have employed some sort of narrative to better (and more interesting effect); it's an interesting musing the the problems of 'narrative' design in games, and how designers can increase the narrative potential of casual titles without bloating them with unnecessaries.
'Homer In Silicon': Narrative vs Fiction [GameSetWatch]