In current gaming parlance, does “RPG” mean anything except “character advancement”? I see lots of games “incorporating RPG elements,” which means that you level up. If they’re really thinking outside the box, you skill up, or you unlock achievements for character advancement. You get more actual role-playing in Second Life or on LiveJournal, and neither of those have levels.

: Zubon

23 thoughts on “CRPG”

  1. Yes.. The term RPG is used in a quiet strange way these days.

    RPG is more than just stats, achievements and so on… but looking around in the MMO-sphere, I don’t think that that much people are really interested in playing a character in a RPG way.

    I think that the term and usage of the word RPG will degenerate even more with time.

  2. Role-playing game in video game vernacular has long gone from actual roleplaying to mere character advancement of any quantifiable level like levels and weapons.

    Of course, DnD is following suit in 4e, which plays nearly like an MMORPG.

  3. Oh, flash thought while I pressed submit… it is interesting that White Wolf – a company that makes tabletop roleplaying games – prefers to call its games storytelling games.

  4. It hasn’t meant much other than that for quite some time. I’m pretty sure Wizardry and Ultima 1 were plugged as “computer role-playing games”, but apart from the mechanics of “walk around, get loot, futz with puzzles/traps, kill monsters” you really didn’t do anything I’d call role-playing. And, to be fair, D&D wasn’t really much more than that either when it first came out.

  5. Well, lest we forget, a big part of the “role” in role playing games was playing a character in a class archetype– as much serving/fulfilling a role in an adventuring party (e.g., fighter, cleric, mage, thief) as playing a role (staying in character).

    Even with the early games and ones that provided no mechanism for drama-club style role playing, class archetype provided immersion and changed the way you interacted with the game world and/or other players.

    No single player RPG every asked or permitted me to act in character though I certainly often interacted with the game world in a manner consistent with my class/race archetype.

  6. The rules of the great majority of RPGs (PnP or otherwise) are merely a set of mechanics for resolving events or encounters. The Roleplaying comes from the participants more than from the rules. And how much RP goes on varies from one group of players to another. Some PnP groups of players may as well be playing Wizardry with dice. At the opposite extreme some players prefer to ditch rules altogether and engage in free-form emergent storytelling. Back in the heyday of PnP there were actually “rules light” systems designed to facilitate that kind of play (one game in particular where your character sheet was a name and three sentences come to mind).

    On the CRP side of things, Bioware and some others have attempted to facilitate “roleplaying” by offering different moral paths. However these generally amount to little more than a choice of whether to be a raging psychopath or total saint. More nuanced motivations simply aren’t supported by that kind of system (and really, how could they be?).

    RP groups do exist in MMOs, and those can be a lot of fun. But again that’s a matter of RP coming from the participants, not the system. The best that you can do in a MMO is give your RP community a lot of props to mess around with, or perhaps a Ryzom style scripting system. Even then, it’s not going to be as freeform as a what you could do offline.

    As an aside, one thing that kills my immersion in MMOs compared to true RPGs is that the mechanics tend to focus almost exclusively on combat and crafting. Why can’t a thief steal anything, or break into homes? Where are the fences? Why can’t you pray in a church? Why are players not encouraged to hang out in taverns? Where are the traps and hidden doors in dungeons? How come you can never negotiate with your enemies?

    There are individual MMOs that do one or two of those things, but none that I am aware of does even half.

  7. Meanings and definitions change all the time. Being gay used to mean being happy, then changed into a way to describe a sexual preference, and more recently used to describe something that is idiotic or stupid. How or why this happens, I haven’t a clue.

    If you want to think outside the box but still use technology, RP on your phone, or social networking page. Create a persona on Twitter, see who follows, and lead them on adventure.

  8. Me, I’ve been a fan of console RPGs since the day they invented the NES. And, I never tried D&D. So, maybe I ain’t qualified to speak on the subject, but I’m gonna.

    The way I define RPGs is that victory is determined by the characters’ skills, not the player. That is, my guy in LOTRO will win if he’s got a lot of strength and vitality. Whereas in a shooter or fighting game, my guy wins if -I- have good reflexes and a steady hand.

    From a sense of playing a role, that’s also not present in console RPGs. You weren’t playing a role in Final Fantasy VII, you were watching a pre-planned story. There’s more room for defining your own character and story in Halo than in what’s called an RPG nowadays.

    And so, what’s it matter what it’s called? Grape Nuts don’t have neither in it. An RPG is a game that features a lot of plot thrust in your face and lots of numbers for you to grind on. When I think of role-playing games as they were in the ’70s, the term I come up with is “PnP RPG” or “PnP game.” But comparing a video game to… anything that’s -not- a video game is fraught with complication.

    I guess they took “RPG” from D&D and put it on the first video game that had dragons and swords and levels, leaving out the elements that simply couldn’t be programmed within reason. Ultimately, I don’t think anything should change, and we can’t expect video games to come to the level of PnP. They’re just different experiences with different appeals, that’s all.

    I forge what the post is about. I’m probably way off topic. Ah well, so it goes.

  9. I never actually “role-played” in an MMO. I guess the role-playing part of RPG within video games means taking on the role of character X by playing that character, at least that’s how I see it.

    I realize that reasoning falls apart fairly easily but that’s how I see it.

    I’ve never felt that RPing in games made a whole lot of sense, considering all the tools the game gives you for meta-gaming. I’ve never had the desire to do so either and, frankly, I find it a tad creepy so I may be biased.

  10. Not only this, but I’d go as far as to say that in some circles “RPG” has more or less assimilated the “Fantasy” prefix as well.

    Proof of this in the parlance is how it’s much more common to hear/read “Sci-Fi RPG” than “Fantasy RPG” or (gasp) “Historical RPG”. Fantasy RPG tends to be just called RPG, just as how “MMO” absorbed the “RPG” as well, not only as a short form, but also as description.

    Of course it doesn’t help one bit that… what… 75%+ of MMOs are along Fantasy lines.

  11. I’ve heard from reliable sources that pen and paper RPGs necessarily being any more Roleplay than CRPGs is really a myth. For original D&D for example the rules mostly concerned the combat as Yeebo remarked is true for great many tabletop RPGs and the games are often played with very little role play.

    Of course just like with CRPGs I’m sure there are games that actually try to encourage role playing and when you have to make the effort to learn and enforce the rules yourself instead of letting the game do that roleplaying may come more naturally.

  12. Yes, the spam filter was holding the trackback. Some other site is reposting yours, so the spam filter held them both.

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