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Default Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Against "Real" Role-playing Games

April 9th, 2010, 08:42
Keiron Gillen has penned an editorial at RPS titled Just Die: Against "Real" Role-playing Games. In short, Keiron argues that arguments about the validity of the term "RPG" for computer/video games are a waste of time and Pen'n'Paper terms of reference are irrelevant and invalid. Here's the intro:
Point: If only computer RPGs could match up to Pen and Papers RPGs. You know – real RPGs.
Counterpoint: Piss-right off.

You still hear this attitude a lot. Hell, back in the day, I suspect I expressed it a bit. But I was 13 years old, and an idiot. That it’s persisting over two decades is getting increasingly embarrassing. The implicit elitism and defensiveness does a lot to explain why Pen & Paper (P&P) still gets eye-raises even in otherwise all-accepting geeky circles. Nothing makes someone more willing to dismiss your opinion than you sneering at something they love.
If you ignore anything else I say in this column, here’s one reason to stop using the phrase: That it’s self defeating conservative ghettoism. You either see that as a problem or you are the problem.
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April 9th, 2010, 08:42
The film and the novel see the game and looks down it, noting it doesn’t do – for example – narrative nearly as well as them, and is therefore is inferior.
huh?

Kieron should fire his editor. Or hire one. Or at least not post stuff right after a night of arguing with his P&P friends over 8 beers.

While I can sympathize with his point on elitism and baseless snobbery, which certainly exists, I am not sure I can follow his argument. E.g. the gameist perspective - not sure its such an easy win for CRPG's with the trends towards more and more action oriented gameplay. The aspect of using the game rules to beat the game is actually taking a backseat here, and by "hiding" much of the rules in the games internal processings, the player is also usually much less aware of this layer. Why is something like KotC even noted - because they do a good job of actually putting the complexity of a P&P rulesystem into a computer game. Likewise the simulationist view - yes there is Dwarf fortress (which is not an RPG), and the Battlecruiser/Universal Combat series which are really deep simulations - and which aren't RPG's and also are rather obscure niche titles for a reason.
So while I agree with the basic premise that each have their pros and cons and should be judged within their own context, I think its also clear that CRPG's can still profit from looking back at the P&P experience.
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April 9th, 2010, 11:21
Yes, I'm completely with you. They are different forms and should be judged as such — but the lessons from PnP still have a valid place and shouldn't just be discarded as irrelevant.

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April 9th, 2010, 11:38
The film and the novel see the game and looks down it, noting it doesn’t do – for example – narrative nearly as well as them, and is therefore is inferior.
I believe that conservative Eliticists would very much believe so. You know, that kind of snobist of "cultural achievements" who believes that EVERY thing that is just mass-oriented is a priori or even per se inferior.

Just because it is mass-oriented.

The statement could especially be true for conservative German art people. who to a great deal still believe that Art shouldn't be mass-oriented at ll, or it wouldn't be "art", because everything that's just "art" just isn't mass-oriented.

It's as if I'd call the work of an Goldsmith "Art" just because the goldsmith doesn't work for the masses, but instead just for kind of an Elite (money, cultural, or otherwise) - a minority, in fact, considering the sheer number of individuals being able to buy works of Goldsmiths.

Or so the cliché goes - because everyone believes that not everyone just isn't able to buy a Goldsmith's work - and everyone omits the fact that wedding rings made of gold are sooooo common …

So - the view upon "games" as something inferior is in my opinion the view of an Elite of any kind - but especially of culture.

Here in German, the situation is especially bad because everyone believes that "games" are - per definition, because that's what games are for - ONLY for Children ! And Children are not adults, so it is quite "normal" to dismiss everything "child-like" as something an adult should NOT use. Especiall if the person doesn't want to lose his or her face against other adults who believe so - that adults should only cope with aduls stuff - and not even try to thing of doing somthing "childish".

Games = childish = inferior

Games = not culture = inferior

To make it short.

This is perhaps to a great extend different than to the U.S. . German rather conservative art people had a long, long, long time haviong problems with seeing or even accepting the works of Andy Warhol (whom, I personally don't like, but that's my privte opinion) as somthing like "Art".

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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April 9th, 2010, 12:40
I'm not sure I even understand what this is about.

Someone has an issue with people wanting PnP elements in their CRPGs?

Or what?
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April 9th, 2010, 13:20
I don't get it. It's basically just an article saying computer gaming in general, especially RPGs, are on their own, and should not be compared to anything but other computer games of the same genre. Did I miss something?

If I didn't, then I agree with it. Of course, it seems like a rather long article to say something so simple and obvious, so I probably read through it a bit too fast.
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April 10th, 2010, 13:38
I think I get the gist of it - reading the whole thing in context makes it more clear that it isn't actually arguing in favour or against P&P or cRPG's over each other in any way. This is more of a long winded jab towards at the implicit elitism held by the fanatics that favour either P&P over cRPGs for being 'more real'. Some of these potential positions are then explained by using the gamist, narrativist and simulationist framework.

Time for some Plato.
"The only things that are real are those which are permanent".

Yes, the word 'real' is abused. (A certain breed of advertisements on television asking for people to get a real job and a real life come to mind.)

So whilst I agree with in essence what the article is saying, the coverage of the gamist, narrativist and simulationist themes is welcome if a little unwieldy in getting the main points across.

Thankfully it's not an apologetic article that adheres to the "let's be free of the lofty goals imposed on us by the P&P tradition and embrace hybridisation and action gaming FTW!" which I thought it might have been initially when I saw the post.

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April 13th, 2010, 12:01
Originally Posted by Pessimeister View Post
I think I get the gist of it - reading the whole thing in context makes it more clear that it isn't actually arguing in favour or against P&P or cRPG's over each other in any way. This is more of a long winded jab towards at the implicit elitism held by the fanatics that favour either P&P over cRPGs for being 'more real'.
That's how I see it as well.

Hence my reply above.

I often find P&P people saying that video games - RPGs - are "not "real" role-playing games".

To me, they are just two totally different flavours of the same kind.
It's like both an ice and roast beef are "food". Well, they are both food, they even consist more or less of the same chemical elements, but their "feeding experience" are totally different from one another.

Which doesnt mean they wouln't be able to influence one another. German "Eisbein" and ice as a dessert to a main meal consisting of roastbeef, for example.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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April 13th, 2010, 15:02
The problem is that cRPG are not 'computer role playing games', and that's where the whole problem lies in my opinion. cRPGs came trying to emulate the RPGs, but only what could really be translated at the time, the stat/leveling/items/skills/spells part, i.e., the mechanics (which was really the origin of the RPGs in the first place from war games). In a way, cRPGs turned into a genre of its own. Now it's like developers want to 'rectify the error' and turn cRPGs into what it should have been. Well, the problem is that what we know as cRPGs have a following, people like cRPGs for what they are, and as developers want to change the genre, obviously many people are not happy about it, me included.
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