Something crossed my mind (crawling stoically onward across that vast trackless waste) as I was hearing for the umpteenth time about a perceived problem with "traditional" style GM-led games. There has been a definite move in many story games to make everyone equal, in that the idea is no longer to have a GM come along and present the setting and situation in its entirety but rather aim to let all of the players participate in the process of creating the world for the game. All nicely democratic and I've certainly no beef with this type of game, nor with the GM-led type; I've played and thoroughly enjoyed both sorts.
With the strong emphasis on game mechanics driving play in many story games, though, I wonder if this doesn't just mean that the designer of the game is really coming along and replacing the GM. Instead of a bloke tucked behind his screen at the head of the table there's a bloke tucked behind his PC in some distant city, creating a game ostensibly allowing total freedom but actually (and perhaps unavoidably) driving the players in a certain direction. Is that better or worse than the old approach? Personally I'm all for different ways of doing things and I'm really only throwing this out as a point for discussion, not as a criticism of anything in particular. I do wonder, though, if the only way to create a playable adventure / setting is to have someone providing the direction previously given only by the GM, albeit in a less dictatorial fashion than was customary with some people, or else the whole thing becomes hopelessly vague.
And is there anything actually wrong with having one person at the table who is responsible for providing the setting and plot as long as that person is aware of his players' needs?