|This came up in a search for "boring|
In a traditional fiction, the narrative is linear - this is true even when the story is told in "cut-up" order, or flashbacks, or whatever. The few exceptions (Naked Lunch) simply prove the rule. A traditional fiction is told from beginning to end, even though that beginning and that end and the parts in between might not be chronologically sequential. That is, you read the book, watch the movie/TV show, examine the comic from the starting point, following along through the medium as it leads you, then finish when it no longer continues.
There is a sole exception to this, and that is the genre of "choosable path fiction", such as the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. But, you see, now we have entered the realm of those things that are traditionally called "roleplaying games". These are fictions which interact with the audience in meaningful ways, in which the audience makes a choice that is then reflected in the continuation of the narrative. Some Computer Role Playing Games (CRPGs) such as Fable and Darklands fit this criteria, though many seem to have no meaningful choices, only scenes where the player fights, then is moved on by the linear narrative scenes into the next fight.
So we have the situation where a character in a linear narrative has to have certain events occur (and others not occur) in order for the ending scene to occur as necessary to the satisfactory resolution of the narrative. This means that the character will exhibit strange distortions of statistical likelihood. He will not be hit by any bullets that could kill him, she won't fall off the cliff as she climbs up the side, he will always find the critical clue that finalizes the villain's guilt, she will be able to dig herself out of the grave in which she's been buried alive. These happen in traditional fiction because they have to happen in order for the final resolution to occur.
In a roleplaying game, this sort of "lust for result" is not inherent to the form. A roleplaying game doesn't have a predetermined character who will achieve a predetermined outcome (rescuing the princess, killing Bill, whatever). Instead, a roleplaying game is more like a puzzle, in which there is a situation that exists (and it may be a situation that changes in response to player actions or a timetable), and it is up to the players to "solve" that puzzle in such a manner as fits their own conception of success.
Some games, though, have given players a resource (points, a special character talent, or some other metagame method) which allows them to modify the character's world in ways that simulate the distortions of statistical likelihood inherent in a linear fiction. When I was younger, I grudgingly accepted this as a way to "simulate" (as I thought) such linear fictions. I called this "cinematic play" at the time. I have since come to dislike the idea, and prefer to consider "cinematic" as a general descriptor of particular physical assumptions that vary somewhat from those in the real world.
A roleplaying game should avoid lust for result. That is, it should not start with a conception of how it will end. The ending (such as it is) of a roleplaying game should develop from the imperfectly-understood choices of the players in relation to the scenario and the rulings and play of the Referee. And even that is a bad way to formulate the situation, because unlike a linear fiction, a roleplaying game does not (have to) have a defined ending at all. A long campaign, if it ends at all without the deaths of the people playing it, is more likely to just peter out. If it bears any resemblance to a linear fiction in this way, it would be to an ongoing series, such as comic books or some types of adventure novel series (The Destroyer, Perry Rhodan, whatever).
In avoiding lust for result, Referees are freed of the temptation to control the players' characters. They are freed of the need to alter dice rolls. They are freed of their quantum ogres. This allows everyone, even the Referee, to be surprised by events in the game, to experience the fiction entirely new, because the fiction didn't come into existence until the communication of the players (including the Referee) and the universe's weighted random number generator as revealed in the dice and the game's rules.
(OK, yeah, I realize that all of this is old hat, but I'm starting to see that people new-come to the ideas in "old-school" style gaming are not really understanding what's going on, so I thought it would be worthwhile to make a new formulation of the concepts.)