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Author Topic: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)  (Read 664 times)

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Offline DallasTopic starter

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What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« on: November 28, 2015, 12:33:15 AM »
Let's just face it.

In the video game world of today, the genres have bled and melded into each other to a point where there are a lot of subjective views on what makes a certain game an RPG (or how they *could* be considered/argued as being an RPG). It can even be argued that some of this can even apply to the pen-and-paper games of today. At least in the sense that the game can vary from group to group. One given group of D&D players could value a lot of character interaction, while a specific group of Shadowrun players may value action and game mechanics with "enough" character interaction, choice and dialogue. But both of these groups would likely say that they are playing an RPG.

This is intended to be a fun, experimental thread where we discuss and share those viewpoints like civilized, fellow gamers. I am also curious on other people's viewpoints for contrast if anything. ;) This is not quite a "What are you playing?" thread but more of a "What are your thoughts?" thread.

There are just a few rules that I ask people to honor in here on this part of Elliquiy.

1. Be civil to one another. You do not have to agree, but don't be rude or snarky about differing viewpoints. I like people a lot better if they disagree with grace and respect rather than the usual uppity behavior that I've seen on many other places on the internet. There is a polite way of saying you don't like this or that, and there are rude ways to state your opinion. Remember to go about it the civilized way. We are behind a screen. We may not know that you are "just teasing". Besides, I do not want a bad example to be set for new members here on Elliquiy. Which brings up the second rule...

2. Remember that unapproved members can also see and interact in this thread. So, remember the PG-13 rule as well as other E rules regarding the public areas of the site. I don't want anyone getting into any trouble here. ;)

3. Some references to games that can be "quasi-considered" as part of the genre are okay to mention. Not too many would raise an eyebrow if you mention games like 'Final Fantasy' or even if you bring up what are commonly known as "Action RPGs". But if you want to try to say that a game like 'Madden 16' is an RPG, please elaborate and explain why such a game feels like an RPG to you (as a whole), so that others can at least understand where you are coming from. These are opinions afterall, so they are not necessarily "wrong". But please elaborate if you think it could be possible that other games might not be readily considered as part of the genre.

I'll be posting up my thoughts on it in a bit. ;)
« Last Edit: November 28, 2015, 12:53:58 AM by Dallas »

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Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2015, 09:00:33 AM »
With exception to a few games that are digital translations of card games or pool and the like I think all games are to some extent a role-playing game. The sole criterion being that you have to step into the game and accept a role. I don't think you can precisely call it a genre, so much as something on a scale. I get that people don't generally accept that definition, but I think it's a lot better than some arbitrary standard of it has has to be stat driven and require character creation. I think RPG is basically the core of any game.

My scale is based on degree of control over the character, and choices you can make that effect the game.

There are no high end, low end. I instead rank them on a general quad-plane.

X: Control over the environment
Y: Control over the character

So most games rank somewhere.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2015, 04:18:28 PM »
It has irked me that computer games are labeled RPGs.  I tell someone I play RPGs and they ask PS3? X-Box?

No.  Just no.   >:(

Offline la dame en noir

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Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2015, 04:23:53 PM »
I've done table top and console RPGs. To me, an RPG is just that - a roleplay gaming. You're playing a role in a game that is consistent with Fantasy or Sci-Fi themes. Bioware, Bethesda, and the people behind The Witcher are great for that. However, whenever I can create a character to be most like the person I want it to be, thats when it feels more like an RPG.

It takes a creative mind to really love RPGs. I have even gotten into heated arguments because someone insisted that I wasn't a RPG player because I bounced between PC, Console, and Table Top.

RPGs are driven by an in depth storyline, characters with great character development and enough room to make your own choices.

Offline Skynet

Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2015, 10:53:17 PM »
I've played both video games and pen-and-paper RPGs for one-and-a-half to two decades now.

I remember hearing about such debates regarding the Legend of Zelda quite some time ago, which had a lot of the tropes (dungeons with monsters, a sense of progression with new hearts, items, etc) but didn't have staples such as levels, random encounters, and such.  Honestly Zelda comes off as more of an action-adventure game to me, but I can definitely see how the RPG elements can classify it as such.

But in regards to the OP, I do think that over time the changing of game design and the genres means that certain things held as quintessential are not as important.  Back in the day a lot of folks would have considered turn-based combat an RPG staple.

Offline DallasTopic starter

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Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2015, 11:01:34 PM »
I agree with that. I remember myself being one of those folks that pretty much drew a line in the sand on the definition. It was something like this:

In video games: If it is turn based, has leveling up, character growth, etc. then its an RPG.

Pen & Paper: Dungeons and Dragons and Shadowrun



These days? I feel like the term RPG could mean a lot more. I brought up Madden because there was one humorous, but interesting case that I remembered. There was this letter to Game Informer on one of those issues I have somewhere. This guy's stance was something like... "Technically, can't we also define all video games as being RPGs (Role-Playing Games)? I mean in FF7 you assume the role of Cloud Strife in a story to save the world. What about Madden? Could one make the argument that in Madden you assume the role of a Quarterback with the task of winning a football game?"

Heh. The logic on it was both funny and interesting. I can't quite remember GI's reply to it. I think it was something along the lines of "Maybe so, but don't expect to see Madden in the Role-Playing Games section anytime soon." XD
« Last Edit: December 03, 2015, 11:03:07 PM by Dallas »

Offline Skynet

Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2015, 11:28:38 PM »
Heh, some time ago in the table-top gaming sphere there was a small movement of gamers claiming that Story-Games (Dungeon World, White Wolf, etc) weren't real RPGs because they were too linear or something.

Elitism knows no bounds, it seems. ::)

Offline DudelRok

Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2015, 03:33:06 PM »
Well... arguably all I play are RPGs... just, is a matter of defining the usage of the word "role." In all of my games I am playing some kind of "role," but in most of my games I'm really just playing some extension of myself, doing the things that I find amusing or entertaining, so with those games, maybe I'm not actually playing a role so much as dealing with straight insertion fantasy?

Rune Factory 4, very recently, playing a lot of that, but even with the character saying his own things and being his own "personality" there isn't much personality within the character at all, and all his actions and choices are mine to make. Anything Bethesda, same thing, except even worse as my character actually doesn't talk deliberately to imply that my voice is the one that's saying the choices I make, as well as being first person to imply my eyes are the things directly looking at the world. Being directly inserted into that character helps with this kind of experience.

Something like... well, every Final Fantasy, that's not me by any stretch, I'm actually playing the role of someone (or something) else, and the only real "choice" I have in most of those is with combat and equipment for purpose of strategy. This is something a lot of people associate as a role-playing-game, right out the gate, without even arguing. At this point someone might argue these kinds of games are more battle-oriented strategy games with strong story attached to them.

Pen-and-paper ... that one is a bit of both. I have my choices, my words, my actions, etc, but they also aren't me, because they are this character that I have created, but maybe I'm just playing some facet of myself in a different reality.


Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Skyrim...

I find that, outside of looking online with an understanding of what other people mean, that something like "RPG" doesn't help me very much. So if I'm looking for something similar to FF, I'll search JRPG, because, in my society, that has a very particular connotation to it. For Skyrim, WRPG, and for Rune Factory 4, that one is a "Life Simulator."

Even as I categorize my video games (especially via Steam) I find myself adding some form of extra qualifier to the "RPG" category, simply because, well, Skyrim isn't like Recetear at all, they are very different experiences that do very different things. They are both "RPGs," but I would also call Recetear a dungeon crawler, much like I would Legend of Grimrock .. and even those two games still need a an extra qualifier to separate them.

Offline Fenrisulfr

Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2015, 03:13:31 PM »
I have a complete disconnect between Computer RPGs and Pen-and-paper/tabletop RPGs.

Computer RPG seems to mean anything with a loot and level function, while the ones lacking the leveling bit were called adventure games. I have enjoyed games like FF-X, Gabriel Knight, Knights of the Old Republic, X-COM (the old original) and GTA III; I would say X-COM is the only one of those I wouldn't put in the RPG category myself, while I guess only FF-X and KotOR generally would be put there by most.

When it comes to pen-and-paper I more or less base my definition on two questions: Are the participants taking on roles, and is the activity bound by the set rules?

If people do not take on roles in one way or another, and I don't care how immersive or detached, detailed or cardboard cutout, it isn't roleplaying.

The second question is where the problems start, as I see it as very unfortunate the word "game" was attached to the end due to a lot of people thinking of games as activities with strict rules. If it has strict rules, it is not a RPG to me. It might be a game with a little bit of roleplaying tied to it. But then, I could add a requirement that I have to give each move in chess a little story, making it a RPG (at least it would be a balanced RPG :P ). So for me, strict rules makes it to not be a RPG. The rules, if any, has to be guidelines and suggestions only.

Well, I also got some training with the AT-4 in the army which apparently also counts as a RPG  ;D ::)

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Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2016, 12:23:16 AM »
Anything I can be me in. If I am playing a game and it has a set character, I get that, but if it doesn't let me pick the dialogue like I would say something I don't consider it an RPG. Yes you can have all manner of RPG elements, but if you don't let me kill this character because its how I would do it, or be a sassy MF to this guy, then its just not an RPG to me. I like dialoguwe choice, character and dialogue choice are the best, but for things like witcher I get it, I I am the white haired wonder, but I can make his as sassy or as serious as I want.

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Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2016, 04:57:27 PM »
Originaly, RPGs were defined as a fictional world created cooperatively by a group of players, who shared in storytelling, with a foundation and structure based on rules, whether from books or agreed upon by the players.  D&D is a classic example, even if it wasn't the first.  I played Empire of the Petal Throne, which came out before D&D, but it was largely the same style.

I think the greatest operational factor in RPGs before computer versions were made was the interactions necessary between players.  The cooperative part was stressed.  It was a social game, despite the many negative stereotypes placed upon players as being anti-social.  It required you to be social, to respond, to reply, to interact.

Looking at most, if not all, MMORPGs of today, I see that the cooperative part was always less than the pen-and-paper versions.  The world was not fluid, could not be changed on a whim by a game master.  What is worse, it has moved away from the interactiveness of MMOs just ten years ago.  I played World of Warcraft  when it was released, and there was a much greater sense of community, cooperation, and fellowship early on.  I recently re-opened my account, and the game is more like playing Skyrim now.  Even when you group up for an instance or raid, the goal is to get through as quickly as possible, refrain from communication, and move to the next instance.  My time on other MMOs has borne this out--it isn't just a WoW phenomena--on games like Tera, Wildstar, Lord of the Rings Online, and so forth.

Really, what we do here on Elliquiy comes closest to true RPGs for me. It is communal storytelling, and that has always, for me, been the heart of any RPG.

Offline DallasTopic starter

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Re: What is an RPG to you? (In Video Games, Pen-and-Paper, etc.)
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2016, 01:25:57 AM »
I agree.

I always felt like it was just me that MMORPGs don't really feel like RPGs anymore because of the community effectively shifting the genre. I feel like the focus on power gaming especially ruins the RPG genre because the point and purpose of it (Role Playing) effectively takes a backseat. It's fine to do that with games like Diablo (seeing as Diablo is just a kick-down-the-door dungeon crawler with a story), but when I see a lot of these games that offer potential to play a character and interact it's sad that the rest of these games are played exactly like D3 and World of Warcraft.  :-\