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November 13th, 2006, 19:14
Excellent article. And many excellent comments. The issue is not so much what is role-playing as what do people think it is or want it to be.

From Merriam Webster online:
Main Entry: role-play
Function: verb
transitive verb
1 : to act out the role of <role-play a shy person>
2 : to represent in action <students were asked to role-play the thoughts and feelings of each character — R. G. Lambert>
intransitive verb : to play a role


Most cRPGs would answer to this definition—you are suspending disbelief in your own probably less-muscled, more effete computer-operating self and becoming someone else—but it's "playing the role of," not actually becoming. It's all a fantasy, and as in all fantasies, its what the fantasizer himself is bringing to the table that makes it work or not. Thus, Gothic is the prime example for some, PS:T, Fallout, BG1, Oblivion, etc for others, because of how each game can address that player's expectations.

So is a cRPG only truly a role playing game if it incorporates one's own personal slant—i.e., must be party oriented, turn-based, real-time, have complex dialogue interactions, consequences, inventory sorting whatever?

I don't think so—I think it just has to work as a proper fantasy should—taking one out of oneself and into another world as another person with the minimum of distraction from the process.(I suppose that's the immersion thing we hear so much about

And I think Gothicgothicness had a cogent point about the old MUDDs—my son used to role-play a barbarian in one, and he would disappear for days into it—the people he played with were more real and present in his life than most of his buds—because he could almost totally control his character and quite literally become it. Not to mention really getting good at keyboarding…

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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