An Oral History of Final Fantasy VII from 1UP.com
Ottway Ducard stashed this in games
What makes this story so compelling?
A key character dies. I think this is the moment that elevates the game for many people I know who played it.
It's why I like JK, and Robert Jordan and George RR Martin more than the main Tolken LOTR books -- they are willing to kill off main characters to drive the plot and catharsis forward.
Other than the death, it's not any one thing; it's 50 hours (20-25 super fast, 100+ if you do all side quests and max level) of gameplay, which is comparatively an extremely long time to any other storytelling medium -- even the majority of other video games, and so maybe the emotional investment is also greater.
I don't watch much TV, but I think the closest comparison would be an entire television series a la Lost, Heroes (canceled), or game of thrones (as of now, unfinished.)
Great explanation. Thanks!