I was thinking about why I really like a particular band and it lead to a gaming thought. A DF gaming thought.
Here is why I think my DF game works. And partly why it's lasted so long.
It is sincere in its silliness.
That is, we do all the things that are cool about heroes fighting monsters in tunnels for treasure.
We also do all the things that are silly about that, too, and take them and own them.
We love all of these things.
We do our level best to make them the most appropriately cool, or the most appropriately silly.
And we play them sincerely.
It doesn't matter if the Church of the Good God (Motto: "Good God, y'all!") is silly. It does matter that we love the joke inherent in it, execute it well, and go after it sincerely.
It doesn't matter if it's kind of strange that there are giant megadungeons full of monsters and loot. Again, we make the jokes, embed them in it, and play it sincerely.
It's not ironic enjoyment, but sincere enjoyment of something twisted ironically. It's a hard difference to explain in words, but I can feel the difference between "make it a joke" and "enjoy the jokes." We and the game are in on the same jokes - laughing with the game elements, not at them.
That's why I think it keeps going. No ironic enjoyment here. Nostalgia flavored but looking back for inspiration not elusive fun that was never really had.
Just sincere silliness.
Or, in a single word: sincerity.