Here’s an interesting read from Chris Aaby, producer on The Sims 3 Ambitions for mobile devices on why The Sims 3 makes for a great storytelling game:
Telling stories is done by using standard building blocks. What I’m getting at is that all stories are made up of little bits, which are reused between entirely different stories. How many stories do you know that include a police officer? A car chase? An abandoned hospital in a post-apocalyptic world?
The Sims uses this to its advantage, by giving the player lots of building blocks, which in themselves are not very exciting, but in conjunction with each other become a compelling setting for an interesting story. You have characters, traits, activities, wishes, needs, objects, and so on.
With these blocks, you build something cool, like a rock star or whatever you might want. 10.000 other players might also have a rock star sim, but theirs might not be blue-haired and hyperintelligent with an interest in gardening, a habit of cross dressing and a torture chamber in their basement. As you play the game, the choices you make become part of your story, because you are free to shape it. It’s still not a story per se, but it’s personal and we’re getting there.