Thursday, September 5, 2013

What is an RPG anyways?

When I was young I had never played a western role playing game. I had never played an Elder Scrolls game or Fable or Fallout. The RPGs that I grew up with were Pokemon and Mario RPGs. At the time I didn't know them as RPGs I just knew that I liked them. I first became aware of the term RPG after playing Fallout 3. It was a game the likes I had never played before. Fallout 3 had an open world that allowed your character to do whatever you wanted them to. You could do quests, you could explore, customize your character or murder everyone on sight. The Fallout 3 world was your oyster. I bring all of this up because I think the term RPG describes something that the majority of  video game "RPG"s don't actually have, and that is Role Playing. The game that was inspiration for all modern RPGs is a Pen and Paper RPG called Dungeons and Dragons. Dungeons and Dragons was the very first RPG and the reason that we call RPGs, "RPG"s today. In Dungeons and Dragons you play a custom made character. The player defines their story, stats, race and abilities and then during the game the player plays the Role of that character acting and speaking as if they were that character. That is the reason that D&D was called a Role Playing game. Not because of the mechanics of the game but because players would act out their own characters. I doesn't make sense to me why we would call Pokemon an RPG when the player doesn't act out or give their character their own story. I think that what happened in the gaming industry is that when developers were making their games based off pen and paper games they categorized their games under the RPG genre even though the only thing they had in common were the mechanics and not actually the reason for which RPGs were named. Games that can actually be called true RPGs are games like Fallout or Skyrim where you can give your character back story and choose their race and class. I propose that we need to rename the RPG genre. The term RPG is misleading and Inaccurate.


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