The idea that crafting a compelling game involves multiple parts — narrative design, graphic elements, sound — is so obvious that it's a shame an article even needs to be written expounding upon that fact, but Sande Chen (The Witcher) has an interesting piece over at Gamasutra on just that. The real take away point is 'attention to detail,' I think — paying attention to visual intensity and how visual elements play into each other and the game; thinking hard about emotional intensity as it waxes and wanes throughout a game; really paying attention to sounds. It seems so basic, but a little attention goes a long way:
To build a meaningful game, a narrative designer joins together and balances these disciplines in game development so that the story can shine in a game. When done successfully, the game expresses themes that connect to audiences. It becomes more than simply a game, but a meaningful experience .... By espousing this multidisciplinary approach to narrative design, developers can elevate the art of game development as well as increase the bottom line. Meaningful games require advance planning, but players benefit much from the integration of story, art, gameplay, sound, and music. Using themes, narrative designers ensure that each play experience is not only immersive, but also a meaningful one.
Clearly this is geared towards games that have a real narrative to weave the other elements around, but not shirking any of these smaller parts in creating a grander whole would add to any game. It's a shortish essay that's worth a quick read — Chen's piece is nowhere near as pedantic as some of these 'narrative design' essays can be. Towards More Meaningful Games: A Multidisciplinary Approach [Gamasutra]