In my quest to examine and question the underlying assumptions that may well be responsible for the trends that many people complain have made gaming stale...
Combat brought up healing; and with healing and role-playing; comes the cleric. Some of the attendant assumptions about class & role are central to many other metagame aspects. I will just touch on two aspects - roleplay and "class" mechanics.
Since so little is true role-playing discussed; I will cover my thoughts on that as quickly as possible. if you ask most gamers about their characters; you're likely to hear a bunch of statistics; a list of favorite weapons and "trophy" kills. If you ask a roleplayer; you will hear something entirely different - you may well hear of the character's children; motiavation; and his rivals... Without going too far into this tangent; my point is that character advancement is; from the earliest days of "role-playing"; often confused for a role-playing element. So I know full well that I'm whispering into the winds here.. but:
The first "sacred cow" I want you to question is "Clerics are there to heal you".
Simply put; NO THEY ARE NOT. Clerics are there to serve the purpose of a higher power. Period. The chess pieces serve the player; NOT vice versa. I won't belabor this; but I just want to point out how overlooking this - assuming that Greater Powers are there to serve pawns - allows quite a bit of other conventions that undermine the Internal Consistency required for suspended disbelief of the story - what we refer to as immersion.
Most of what i have seen players do in RPG's and MMO's goes quite counter to role-playing the Champion of a higher power.
Whats ironic about this is that mechanics to enforce faction or "alignment" loyalty have existed since -at least - Ultima 4's Virtues( to become an avatar)
Whats ironic is; people will grind quests to curry FAVOR or reputation for a Faction but yet that i have seen; to EARN the right to be a champion of a higher power.
Most people never consider this: Berserkers; Knights Templars; Ninjas; Assassins:
ALL : RELIGIOUS FANATIC "CULTS".
i joked before; if you think 'clerics' are there to heal you; go ask Moses how many people he healed; or ask a priest of ol' Set (or Vecna?) to heal you...
but aside from that joke; the reason all this is overloooked is that almost no one minds... most games are so weak on story for the same reason no one questions these long-swallowed conventions:
99% of playersdon't care about role-playing; they are interested in the hack'n'slash loot'n'level game-play model; and couldn't care less so long as SOME kind of "walking medicine cabinet" healbot enables that :)...
..or an IV of heal potions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYQLR7dE5k4&mode=related&search=