Gamasutra - Dumbing Down Games
Gamasutra is hosting a new blog piece were the writer talks about dumbing down games, and uses Skyrim as one example.
There's been a recent trend in large, popular titles that are sequels. And that is to make the game simpler than its previous incarnations, assumedly in order to broaden the potential audience of the titles. Examples include The Elderscrolls and Skyrim, which included the popular mechanic of regenerating health so "people don't have to worry as much".
The hypothesis is a common one. Outside of combat people are just going to go about and do something to regenerate their health anyway, so why not speed that up for them and get it over with? Make it so they "get back to the game" faster.
This assumes firstly that getting your health back isn't part of the game and isn't fun. And a lot of aspects in games are treated as such. It's "not fun" so get rid of it. But even more recently there's been a trend of taking these "not fun" aspects of a game and finding out how to make them fun. "Roguelikes" even go so far as to take death itself, a normally frustrating portion of games where one might just reload your previous save, and actually turn the entire process into something fun and enjoyable.