Skallagrimm says:it's sorta like Elderscrolls vs. Dragons age.
in Dragon's Age if you play an elf, other characters will treat you like an elf. Because elves are a unique and distinguishable group. In Elderscrolls, you can walk into a tavern with a dinosaur for a waitress, and it means nothing. It's just a waitress. No unique patterns of speech, no cultural traits, nothing.
I like dwarves, not because they're short, but because they're gruff, tough, crass, gassy. They'll drink any man twice their size under the table, and most likely beat him at arm wrestling too.
What's next? Dragon's that don't use breath weapons? Blink dogs that do? How about taverns that don't serve drinks? Or mountains that are only as tall as Saskatchewan????
My god, I really have become a grumpy old man, haven't I?
I think the main issue I have with your argument is how inconsistent it is. You say you like dwarves not because of their physical abilities/characteristics, but because of learned cultural traits
. Specifically those usually seen in mountain dwarves. Then you seem to say this new optional rule could lead to wotc changing typical abilities
of dragons and blink dogs. You seem to be selectively choosing when to use innate abilities vs. when to use learned traits only when it suits your argument.
I'll admit I haven't looked deeply into the changes because I feel like this was basically how I've always played. I've never had a problem with players giving their characters traits of another race if their backstory has them growing up in an atypical culture. This never meant that humans could suddenly have darkvision because they grew up in a dwarven city, but I would approve of their character getting a bonus to spotting secret passages in underground tunnels. No one is born gruff and crass. These are learned traits. No one learns to have wings (without magic...) because this is an innate ability.
I'm not sure the video game examples hold up either. In Dragon Age there is a minimum of two known elven cultures. The Dalish and the city elves. They are so radically different that members of each group generally don't even recognize each other as sharing a connection. Dalish use 'flat ears' as a slur against city elves to mean that they are basically human since they have grown up in human city and their culture has nothing in common with Dalish culture. For all extent and purposes, city elves are human in the eyes of the Dalish despite their elven blood. Many city elves make similar comments regarding how alien Dalish culture is and how they would never want to live among them. Playing an elf, you can expect to be treated very differently based upon where you are and who you are talking to.
I feel culture has a much bigger impact in Elder Scrolls then you state. Accents are so well established that you can all but instantly pick up where someone is from by the way they talk. Looking at Skyrim alone, characters of different cultures will frequently dress and equip themselves differently. Redguard often have scimitars while Nord guards balk at the idea of a curved sword. Imperials are more likely to favor heavy armor and shields. Thalmar guards will have elven armor while Wood elves usually have leather or fur.
Windhelm is a city where different cultures are clashing heavily because of the ungoing war and the Dunmer refugee crisis. There is an Altmer merchant who faces prejudice for her race but is gradually accepted by the locals over time. Then there are the Dunmer refugees who are horribly oppressed in Windhelm but generally treated better elsewhere in Skyrim. Whiterun is a bit of a melting pot because it is an important trade city but the Jarl's Imperial steward who is mocked for not understanding Nord customs. When characters do act against their racial/culture sterotype, it is usually mentioned in dialog. Like Onmund, a Nord student at the College of Winterhold who faced ridicule for wanting to learn magic. Altmer, typically seen as thinking that they are better than everyone, are the only race to never appear as bandits. Elder Scrolls doesn't just hit a random race button when NPCs are created. They all have reasons for being where they are and acting how they do.
Riften is an interesting city that lets you explore Argonian culture. You have the tavern owners who are both Argonian and are seeking a traditional Argonian marriage. You can take a quest help to them carry out their marriage customs. Other Argonians and Khajiit are looked down on with suspicion almost everywhere they appear. In most cities it is rare to see an Argonian outside the docks. Khajiit aren't even allowed inside city walls. The fact that two Argonians have managed to gain the respect of the town (for the most part) and run a successful business is a pretty big deal. They are not just a random dinosaur taking your order.
Your character can also be treated quite differently based on race. Orc characters don't need to complete a quest to gain access to strongholds. They are welcomed as an Orc. Any character that isn't a Nord will get unique dialog when playing through the civil war questline for the Stormcloaks.
Multiple races show that they have multiple cultures represented under them. The Bretons usually live in feudalistic societies that value knighthood and espionage while there are also the tribal like Reachmen. Imperials have Colovians and the Nebenese. These two cultures are so different that they might as well split them off into separate "races" for the next game. In ESO Abnur Tharn (a Nebenese Imperial) even mentions how he thinks Colovians are backwards mountain folk. Culture is constantly touched upon in the Elder Scrolls series.