The term role-playing game has always confused me, especially in the way it’s regarded by the gaming community.
Your vicarious assimilation, however inured is a participation attributed to a specific role. Whether that’s a footballer or an intrepid adventurer. So why is there such a neglected recognition for anything that isn’t steeped amid extrapolated mysticism? For me the interpretive definition, commonly applied to anything with wizards dragons and other variants on asinine mythology is one made through convenience. I’m sure there are many that consider the term “RPG” a succinct appellation of the abbreviation, an aberration that meekly defines a specific game, but there’s such an exponent variation on what constitutes as an RPG that it’s difficult to accurately extract it’s specifics. If you’re simulating the role of Batman, Lara Croft, Nathan Drake or even a pixellated Hedgehog, are you not by the systemic rule of interaction playing the role of a character? An acquaintance of mine was telling me recently that he doesn’t play RPG’s as “that kind of thing is boring” he suggested. He is evidently more infatuated with a generic FPS in all of its asinine persuasions. Not that I’m criticising (much), but isn’t something like Battlefield or Call of duty a composite of both FPS and RPG? Isn’t every first or third person, racing, sport or any other abbreviation that categorises a genre, canopied under the governing prelude of an RPG?
Can you define an RPG by its merits, stature or size? Whether by its limited linearity or expansive setting? It seems a socially acceptable exclusion to anything that doesn’t depict imposing lands replete in swords and dragons, with ideologies specifically reserved for knights of valour as being the pictorial aggregation of a genre loosely defined. You’d think that amid the swell of secularised platforms that someone could recognise the clear parallel that most genres fraternised with role-playing?! An FPS for instance by its very definition is neutrally identifiable, evidenced in the banal troupes and indentured servitude. (Again I’m not having a go, honest!) If the game represents a first person perspective and you shoot things, then it’s probably an FPS. If your goal is to, well score goals in a game of football, then that’s sports. If you’re driving a car round a track, then that’s racing. But all of these types of games are emblematic depictions of an RPG. Aren’t they? Of course many gamers would resist the proposal to refer to anything outside of Tolkien or featuring spaceships as an RPG, which is rebellious in a conformists kind of way, that only conflate’s the negative association with this parlous conduit.
The dimensions that are proportionate to RPG such as size, themes and scale indicates the constitutions of what a contemporary RPG’S are supposed to be. I understand this is a very broad acquaintance and that games need to be regulated into condensed categories, but to me signifying something that conjures so much expansive connotations, the arbitrary RPG description facilitates a multitude of attributes. I may be misguided in my reasoning, it’s been known to happen on occasion, or perhaps Cod fans are just as geeky as the kids that dress up as their favourite gaming characters. So just admit that your cool, blowey uppy world war simulator is a role-playing game! Ugh. Nerds!
Are all games RPG’s? Leave a comment that agrees me entirely……by which I mean leave an impartial suggestions. Cheers.
To me an RPG is a game in which you can actively shape your character. I.e. add stats and level up in a way that you choose and which makes you character unique. Dialogue choices can contribute to this.
The difference with the likes of Uncharted is that everyone’s Nathan Drake has the same abilities and the same dialogue.
I guess the problem comes with the term Role-Playing, since you role play in every game, like you said. A more accurate term would be a build-your-own-character game or BYOCG, but that doesn’t role off the tongue as well.
This is a really interesting read! I agree with you that most games are essentially RPG’s and I would argue that the RPG’s we are used to have gained that title because there is still an aversion to the term ‘fantasy’, which a lot of RPG’s are but game developers may be afraid to define their game’s as solely fantasy in case it scares off potential buyers.
Good write up. I disagree though that all games are role playing games. Firstly due to the games that simply feature no characters like match three puzzle games, or games which the player character is undefined such as many RTS games. Role playing games are those games with the main focus of assuming the role of a character and the immersion that follows. Most games do, as you say, involve “playing a role”, but if that is not the main focus of the game, it is not a role playing game. For example, the latest Batman game featured vehicular sequences, but is by no means a driving game (however it is one I could see being called a role playing game). Call of Duty has you assuming the role of a soldier, but the focus of the game is shooting, with the role playing only being an excuse to shoot, therefore the game is a shooter instead of an RPG.
Very good argument. You made some very good points
This was very well written, and had never thought of it in that way before. I was all for completely agreeing with your stance on this until I read William Watlington’s post, and I must say he makes some very good points as well. So like he said yes a lot of the games out there can be considered RPG in addition to their other game types, but there are several types of games out there that can’t be considered an RPG, the most obvious being puzzle games (as there are no characters). Very good read though and a great article.
For me I think it’s a matter of definition. Never quite understood the singular perspective that defines an Rpg. But I’m certainly not going to argue with William Watlingtons compelling counter argument. Just love these little debates.