This thread provides interesting food for thought for someone such as me; I'm not old by any means, but I'm getting older, and I'm also busy. Nowadays, the prospect of picking up a 200 (or more likely 400) page-long tome of new rules fills me with dread and boredom rather than excitement, and I find that my attention span is only a fraction of what it used to be. It doesn't help that most RPG rule books are full of extraneous crap that no sane person could possibly want to read, like page after page of "game fiction" with no purpose other than exercising the game designers' frustrated-novelist demons, either.
So the thought has occurred to me: isn't it easier to just give up on learning new systems and pick one generic system which will allow you to run anything?
And yet I'm obviously not alone in finding generic/universal systems unutterably bland and dull. Whether it's GURPS, d20 Modern, Savage Worlds, or whatever else, something about a generic system leeches all the enjoyment out of gaming for me. The process ceases to feel immersive and begins to feel increasingly gamey in the worst sense, almost like a lesser simulacra of what role-playing is: all the flavour disappears.
I'm pretty sure this is to do with authorial voice and authorial intent. Because, while I might despise the kind of ridiculous fiction which appears in some game books, it can't be ignored that there is something personal in the best RPG systems. OD&D is not just a fantasy role playing game - it's a fantasy role playing game created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Pendragon is not just a game about Arthurian romance - it's a game about Arthurian romance created by Greg Stafford. Apocalypse World is not just a game about the post-apocalypse - it's a game about the post-apocalypse created by Vincent Baker. Cyberpunk 2020 is not just a game about cyberpunk roleplaying - it's a game about cyberpunk roleplaying created by Mike Pondsmith. (I could go on, but you get my drift, I think.) Those games and, I would submit, most games that really work, contain something personal of the author in them - something that communicates passion, mood, emotion and personality above and beyond merely being a ruleset. They come from something the designer loved, not something the designer thought would fulfil a certain function.
Pretty much by definition, then, I feel, generic rulesets will lack the crucial element of authorial personality. They will by necessity be an exercise in engineering rather than flavour, because they are created not from the heart but the brain, and this will inevitably lead to them feeling dry. They may be exquisitely designed. But they won't contain any spirit, or passion - and they will inevitably tend to dullness.
(Naturally, there is one exception to this: Risus. But Risus always defies categorisation.)