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The best thing I can say is... go help yourself by playing some games... thats the only real way to learn how to compare and contrast games is to go play them... this is what you should do.. pick at least three games from each genra and play them... go read some reviews of some old tried and true games and make your decissions about what games to get from there, good or bad. And I would also ask you this... dont discount games just because they have jumping in it.. thats like saying you dont like mathematics because the even numbers piss you off... you wont get very far in math if you cant get past even numbers. True, jumping may be difficult at times, but its a fundamental of the game you are playing, something you have to master. By not doing so, you really arnt playing the game. ("I dont like tetris cause the blocks fall faster as you go further into the game")
And one other thing... as far as your point about role-playing games.. let me ask you this.. arnt all fiction books fantasy books? I mean... whats going on is really not a true story and therefore a "fantasy" that someone put on paper.


As a long-time player of pencil-n-paper RPGs, and also a player of some computer RPGs and a few console RPGs, I can speak for the videogame meaning of "roleplaying."

Are any videogame RPGs roleplaying the way you would in a basement with some friends and a couple of DnD books? No. "RPG" usually applies to any videogame where characters have levels and "stats" that go up as the character advances throughout the game (in the gaming media, these games are often referred to as having "RPG elements"). If the game has some sort of dialogue system where you can choose what you want to say to the characters you talk to, so much the better.

Computer games with _actual_ roleplaying in them tend to be massively-multiplayer online games, because designing a linear game is already an 18+ month task for most developers, let alone one that reacts to you "naturally." MMOGs let real-live humans take care of that part. Unfortunately, many players of MMOGs don't have much interest in actual roleplaying, but there are players out there who want to do it "right."

Probably the best roleplaying in a non-online game right now is in _Planescape: Torment_, which came out for PC back in '99 or 2000. You can probably find it on Ebay.

Anyway, _Enter the Matrix_ wouldn't be considered a roleplaying game because Niobe and Ghost don't really gain levels throughout the game. _Deus Ex_, meanwhile, had stats, and dialogue trees, and was considered a roleplaying game. _Pokemon Ruby_ meets similar criteria, and is surprisingly intelligent given the subject matter (I am told that I completed my first battle with "aplomb"! Aplomb!)


For the most part, ignore labels. They should be taken as a guideline not a rule. To me it seems the Roleplaying title is given to games where the player can involve a significant amount of their own personality into the character and it doesn't already fit better in another category.

A pretty good rule of thumb is if you can name your character. Most games where you can name/rename characters it's a roleplaying game (again, assuming it doesn't already fit under another category better). For example you can name your character in Quake, but it's more accurate to describe the game as a FPS rather than say you're roleplaying a guy that shoots people. :)

One last comment about your gripe against roleplaying games. You say you're happy with your own skin and the only time you like that sort of thing is on the stage. Well... that's roleplaying games are! Alot of them anyone. Almost all the RPG's that I enjoy are ones where I can make the character something that I would want to be and not what the developers tell me what to be. It's sort of like acting in movies where actors put a little bit of their own personality into their characters. The same is done in roleplaying games. You should never turn yourself off to an entire genre entirely because just like music it doesn't tell much. Punk music today is nothing like Punk music 10 years ago, but they're both called "Punk"


Well technically, I don't suppose that your argument would hold for too long. I mean, a lot of games ask you to control someone and then other games ask you to BE someone. I guess of the former being a game such as Super Mario Brothers (pretty much any incarnation), and of the latter... let's say any final fantasy game (forget X2 for now).

In mario brothers, you're controlling Mario, helping him jump over objects and ride dinosaurs and whatever the hell that mario does. You complete the level's objectives, go through the goal, whatever, and it's done. You generally don't make story changing decisions. In this new matrix game, you just play through a set amount of levels as either Ghost or Neobe, and you try to get them to the end of the level alive.

Now what's funny is that I always thought the role-playing genre would be the most appealing to a female audience, but apparently it seems that most of them respond well to the 'game as a toy' type of thing that maxis does with the sims (and other games like animal crossing). (my generalization).

Anyway, the role-playing genre is more of a story telling type, where you generally take on the role of a main character. You are eventually accompanied by other characters, and sometimes you even get to name all of them. The main distinction is that here you don't have a set of levels to work through, but a set world that you can explore and interact with. This world has a set of characters, and with this world and these characters, the game makers create a story that you get to 'live' by taking on the 'role' of a character. It's a lot less cool than that sounds, since you're more or less just walking the character around the screen disposing of monsters and communicating with other characters.

But none-the-less, squaresoft and other great game makers have came up with huge, dramatic, compelling stories.

I would figure anyone who likes reading fantasy novels or science-fiction novels even would enjoy any type of Roleplaying Game. But there are games, such as Earthbound, that require no such interests.

There's also a big distinction I think in between console rpgs (like you'd find on a nintendo or a sony), and computer RPGs (one's you'd play on the computer). You can see this when you compare a very CRPG game such as Morrowind, to a very console RPG game such as Chrono Trigger. I've found CRPG games to be much more open ended with the player's character development and exploration, where as the console RPG is more focused around telling a story.

So yeah, short version, I don't see how RPGs could be so appalling, it's basically at it's core the gaming equivellent to a novel.

There's mixes between genres of course like an Action/RPG or an Adventure/RPG, or whatnot.

Basically, if the game you're playing matches one or more of the following conditions, you're PROBABLY playing an RPG:

You are able to name your Main Character.
There is party system.
There are many characters that join your 'party.'
There are numerical statistics for your characters abilities.
Your characters level up
You can name your characters.
There's a LOT of reading.
There are a LOT of voice overs.
There is a world map.

ETC, you're probably getting the idea.

Anyway, there's tons of stuff you can argue (I don't believe that there have to be attribute stats in an RPG for it to be one), but generally the only true games where you'll be taking on a real role is either ones that you play online (massively multiplayer online rpgs, muds) or ones you play with a pack of pencils, some dice, a pad of paper, and a bunch of other nerds.

Dungeons and Dragons, baby.


I think what's confusing you is how RPG's came to be. Sure, there were many like Ultima and whatnot, but RPG's became popular with games like Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy. Considering the technical limitations, they were pretty much RPG's. Instead of using mostly text (or words or whatever), the games switched to using graphics to portray many things. They were pretty much dungeon-crawlers, and the stat systems were big at the time (what other games rewarded you for fighting by giving you more strength and endurance?) Thus, that's how they became popular.

I'm being cut off, sorry. Just know that platformers also made up a majority of the games in the past, too, and that's why it was a necessary skill.

Blain Newport

Comments on the comments... :P

MSTIRLING is definitely right about needing to overcome adversity in games. In fact, the major payoff in many games is learning new skills and conquering obstacles you would have had no chance against when you started. But many gamers don't want to work that hard, and you never said you wanted to be hardcore.

Ben and others are definitely right about computer games having a different definition of role-playing. In my experience, any computer game in which your character accumulates anything more than guns and ammo get classified as a role-playing game. ;)

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