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Default The Escapist - Editorial about how the Term RPG is a Mess

July 4th, 2010, 20:29
Seamus Young from The Escapist extends on his article Alpha Overhaul from last week and continues tells us why the term RPG is "misused and abused."
But the nature of a specific D&D game can vary a great deal depending on who is running the game and these gameplay aspects will appeal to different types of players. Some people just want to kill stuff and don't care about story. Some want to play characters, etc. But since every game was run by a person, D&D was able to be all things to all people. If the game wasn't giving you what you wanted then it was a problem with your DM, not the game.
So then the computer rolled in and people started making videogames out of what they thought were the crucial components of an RPG. Some focused on character building, some on storytelling, some on strategy. And they all called their wildly divergent games "Role Playing Games"
In similar news, also at The Escapist, a former? IGN PC editor, Steve Butts, covers nearly every genre convention and our expectations to them.
Another part of the problem is that genre definitions based on the interaction and presentation of the game are vague enough to be confusing. At the most basic level, for example, almost every game is a simulation because almost every game simulates some kind of reality. From football to fishing to flying to finance, any game that represents a real world system is, by definition, a simulation. Likewise, most games are designed to put the player in a discrete role or responsibility, so most games have some element of roleplaying. You could even argue that all games are strategy games to the extent that they require players to collect and contextualize information to improve the quality of range of their interactions with the game world. The best games blur the lines between distinct genre divisions. Is GTA a driving game? Yes, but not just a driving game. Is Borderlands a shooter? Yes, but not just a shooter. Is Mass Effect an RPG? Yes, but not just an RPG.
More information.
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July 4th, 2010, 20:29
Yeah, the genres are a mess. But, if you go to any bookstore, you'll find a mess there, too. If you write a murder mystery set 150 years ago, based on an actual murder of that time, and the protagonist falls in love while trying to solve the crime, what kind of book is it? Historical fiction? Mystery? Romance novel? If it happens to take place in Dodge City, Kansas, it may even be a western. If the murderer turns out to be a robot from the future, it's a science fiction book - even if you don't find out about it until the last page.
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July 4th, 2010, 20:54
It's the most dominant feature that determines book's (or game's) genre. For example, if romance was the most prominent part of your book it would be a romance novel with elements of murder mystery, SF and so on.

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July 4th, 2010, 22:45
Indeed Malk, the most dominent feature or that which is prominent could be the category for a methodology for classification purposes, the pigeon hole where to look first for a particular style even though it is mainly a guideline which aids the seeker and reduces the time searching for the particular class.
Consequently Sub divisions ideally must always remain within the dominant classification - but then again, a book with 50% western and 50% romance content has to put into either one or the other pigeon holes for ease of classification……but who would take the time to quantify the percentages? - the writer?.. probably.
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July 4th, 2010, 23:26
Originally Posted by Wulf View Post
Consequently Sub divisions ideally must always remain within the dominant classification
Why? That's a peculiar statement considering that you recognise (corectly in my opinion) the purpose of classification as "a guideline which aids the seeker". Why should there be a 'dominant classification' anyway if a certain work has the ability of satisfying different 'audiences'?

It actually seems to me that classification in games is a very simple process - I believe the reason we are incapable of agreeing on the classification of some games or the definition of some classes is because there don't exist any solid, widely known and accepted theories on the issue… In other media things are much harder: try to find a single pigeon hole that can hold "The Name of the Rose" for instance.

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July 5th, 2010, 10:54
@holeraw - re: perculiar statement.

Every classification system must have some hierarchical form within the main heading (the dominant) and sub-dominants - (subordinates) or else there would be complete chaos - do you agree?

Taking a western novel as an example, it could be a 'comedy western' or 'adventure western' or 'action western' or 'romantic western' or 'spaghetti western' etc' - western being the dominant class within the title.
Last edited by Wulf; July 5th, 2010 at 17:19. Reason: typo
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July 6th, 2010, 17:34
Originally Posted by Wulf View Post
@holeraw - re: perculiar statement.

Every classification system must have some hierarchical form within the main heading (the dominant) and sub-dominants - (subordinates) or else there would be complete chaos - do you agree?

Taking a western novel as an example, it could be a 'comedy western' or 'adventure western' or 'action western' or 'romantic western' or 'spaghetti western' etc' - western being the dominant class within the title.
Why should "western" take precedence over "comedy" (and etc.)?

And as far as RPGs go we can't even agree on what the defining characteristics of them are.
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July 6th, 2010, 21:53
Re: - Why should "western" take precedence over "comedy" (and etc.)?

Thats the whole point, for the sake of non-chaotic classification one class *has* to be chosen as the dominant, otherwise we could have 'comedy western' in the comedy section in the library - 'romantic western' in the romance section - etc' etc' - all sub category westerns would be spread out across the library sections, in anywhere but in the "westerns" section!

Re:- And as far as RPGs go we can't even agree on what the defining characteristics of them are.

….Agreed +1

Personally, i think classification similarities has gradually drifted in from other media formats - films/movies as a big influential example… where many contemporary gamers might take an "action adventure" movie as parallel class denominated to "action adventure rpg" - to name just one.
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July 7th, 2010, 09:54
I think you can define a role playing game as a game which lets you develop both your character's personality and his stats. Meaning no Diablo, no Morrowind, etc.

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July 7th, 2010, 10:52
Originally Posted by Malk View Post
I think you can define a role playing game as a game which lets you develop both your character's personality and his stats. Meaning no Diablo, no Morrowind, etc.
No Morrowind?

RPG is about utilising your character skills not your ability to click fast .
In Morrowind blocking , attacking , casting spells are all character related and your skills as a person do not matter .
Also there are paths you can chose , houses and orgs you can join that determine who you are and your advancement in them is again stat related .

Morrowind IMHO is the definition of RPG .

About the "linearity" thing can turn your back and leave Dagoth alone , failing to fulfil the prophecy or simply denying to become Azura's pawn is always an option .
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July 7th, 2010, 12:40
Originally Posted by Wulf View Post
.
I'll just say that I think you are perfectly correct when talking about hierarchy in a classification system - especially within the confines of a library's sections or similar.

However I find it unnecessarily limiting when there are no such confines. For example: when the 'western' part of a 'comedy western' can be identified as dominant, it doesn't help someone who is interested in comedy -but indifferent in any other specifics- to locate it. ie I want a comedy and I don't care whether it's western or scifi or whatever… where should I look?

When on a library such hierarchy is necessary since the library can't hold an unlimited amount of copies of each book all over the place - but in our case, with the flexibility of the web, databases etc. I don't think forcing something into a single pigeon hole is efficient - I, personally, am far more in favor of the 'chaotic' tag cloud.

Originally Posted by Malk View Post
no Morrowind
!
Does this go into the 'wild-card' Action Adventure category as well then?…
Because lately it seems that that's where all those favorite games of mine, that I thought were RPGs, go

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July 7th, 2010, 15:30
Thank you to Malk and Tragos for exactly proving my point.
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July 8th, 2010, 01:22
Originally Posted by Tragos View Post
Also there are paths you can chose , houses and orgs you can join that determine who you are and your advancement in them is again stat related .
That doesn' determine who I am. IE, I'm not Malk, a forum poster. I am Malk, a person. In Morrowind you can only roleplay a speechless robot. I play rpgs mostly because they let me roleplay, not rollplay.
Does this go into the 'wild-card' Action Adventure category as well then?…
Because lately it seems that that's where all those favorite games of mine, that I thought were RPGs, go
No, action adventures are games like Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, etc. I'd call Morrowind sandbox action with strong rpg elements.

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July 8th, 2010, 06:08
Originally Posted by Malk View Post
In Morrowind you can only roleplay a speechless robot. I play rpgs mostly because they let me roleplay, not rollplay.
It's been a while since I have read such a nonsense. Morrowind isn't an interactive film that puts words into your mouth, but choosing a keyword implies that your character says something. You also choose your answers and your actions. Your way through that game can be completely different, depending on your choices.

This "roleplay vs. rollplay" comments don't get any more intelligent with every repetition I hear, either. If you think of the grandfather of roleplaying games, OD&D, it would squarely fall into the "rollplay" definition. All this emphasis on character development stuff comes from the Vampire side.

I wonder which CRPG's of the years 2000 and later fulfill your definition of RPG?
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July 8th, 2010, 08:01
Wow… so now even Morrowind isn't an RPG?

I'm pretty sure I'd have to disagree with that one…
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July 8th, 2010, 16:33
Originally Posted by Turjan View Post
Morrowind isn't an interactive film that puts words into your mouth, but choosing a keyword implies that your character says something. You also choose your answers and your actions. Your way through that game can be completely different, depending on your choices.
You can't determine your character's personality. In DAO you could decide whether he believes in Maker or not, then you could treat people like shit or you could be a knight in shining armor, etc. You don't have those kind of choices in Morrowind (well, at least not in the first few hours.. at which point I got bored and stopped playing). I think that's crucial for roleplaying.
If you think of the grandfather of roleplaying games, OD&D, it would squarely fall into the "rollplay" definition. All this emphasis on character development stuff comes from the Vampire side.
Those old "rpgs" were considered part of the genre back in the day, but now the genre has evolved, they can't be confined within its boundaries anymore because they lack certain key elements. Just like people taught Pac Man was an action game, but we now know it's a platformer (or an arcade game, whatever you want to call it). Or if you look at music, Black Sabbath was labeled as hard rock in the seventies, but its now obvious they played doom metal.
I wonder which CRPG's of the years 2000 and later fulfill your definition of RPG?
Pretty much all games coming from Bioware, Obsidian, Troika…
It's been a while since I have read such a nonsense.
That is often the way with Malks.

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July 8th, 2010, 16:38
The discussion shows the main problem:

Most people (subconsciously) use the definition:

"The type of game I like" = RPG.

So somebody got bored by Morrowind after the first few hours, therefore it can't be an RPG….

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July 8th, 2010, 17:53
Originally Posted by Malk View Post
You can't determine your character's personality. In DAO you could decide whether he believes in Maker or not, then you could treat people like shit or you could be a knight in shining armor, etc. You don't have those kind of choices in Morrowind (well, at least not in the first few hours.. at which point I got bored and stopped playing). I think that's crucial for roleplaying.
You are wrong. You have pretty much the same choices in Morrowind. Morrowind even lets you solve many quests in different ways, which is increasingly uncommon in modern games, where the best you can get is some fake dialog choices.

Originally Posted by Malk View Post
Those old "rpgs" were considered part of the genre back in the day, but now the genre has evolved, they can't be confined within its boundaries anymore because they lack certain key elements.
Thanks for confirming my suspicion. A definition of RPG that excludes (O)D&D is completely worthless. I guess I was a bit slow yesterday, as the "Malk" should have been a dead giveaway that this is White Wolf speak. Funny enough, all p&p White Wolf players I personally know actually play their games as complete hack & slash.

Originally Posted by Malk View Post
Pretty much all games coming from Bioware, Obsidian, Troika…
So Mass Effect 2 is an RPG, but Morrowind isn't? Got you.

Originally Posted by Malk View Post
That is often the way with Malks.
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July 8th, 2010, 22:40
Originally Posted by bkrueger View Post
Most people (subconsciously) use the definition:

"The type of game I like" = RPG.

So somebody got bored by Morrowind after the first few hours, therefore it can't be an RPG….
You're called Krueger just like Freddy Krueger and Nightmare on Elm Street was my ex-girlfriend's favorite movie while she was growing up, therefore you're gay.
Originally Posted by Turjan View Post
You are wrong. You have pretty much the same choices in Morrowind. Morrowind even lets you solve many quests in different ways, which is increasingly uncommon in modern games, where the best you can get is some fake dialog choices.
Ok, I played Morrowind like 5 years ago (for a short amount of time), so you're probably right.
So Mass Effect 2 is an RPG, but Morrowind isn't? Got you.
First few hours of Morrowind I remember are lesser rpg than ME.

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July 9th, 2010, 11:10
Originally Posted by Malk View Post
First few hours of Morrowind I remember are lesser rpg than ME.
I didn't play ME so i have nothing to say about it but as far as i can tell you didn't played MW enough to have an opinion .
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