I think Mass Effect 2 was an obvious advancement of the RPG genre. Much of what made it an RPG is veiled behind action packed shooting, streamlined leveling, and absolutely NO GRINDING. If that isn't an advancement of role-playing games, I don't know what is.
Obviously now that the dust has settled around that title, there's obviously more to learn about what Bioware is doing to make games like these. Kotaku's Stephen Totilo took an opportunity at GDC '10 to bug Bioware general manager Ray Muzyka about certain levels of "emotional engagement."
"There are lots of emotions you can have interacting with other characters in a game: hatred, love, loyally, friendship, remorse, sadness, grief — all kinds of different interesting emotions. As long as you're engaging people in that level, we think that's a more compelling experience."I think this quote speaks directly to what Bioware did with Mass Effect 2. Looking at that game, you have the same layers of character interaction as you did in Mass Effect, but you also have entire missions dedicated to individual characters and what makes them tick. Obviously, vested interest in the characters means you're going to have vested interest in the game. Why do you think people talk about their interactions with characters in Mass Effect in the first person so much? When you take the role of "Shepherd," Bioware wants you to fill those shoes as completely as possible.
I'm interested to see, or hear or whatever, how Bioware furthers that kind of experience, that kind of connection, with the characters in the video game.