Hello again all. Is it Friday already?
So, last week I went on a little tirade about why we weren’t going to de-list Star Trek Online. I talked about the first M in MMORPG, and I guess I made the mistake of offering to give my similar rant on the RPG part of the acronym this week. Little did I expect a bunch of you to call me out on it this week… You know who you are *shakes fist*.
So, we all know what the acronym RPG is supposed to stand for: Role Playing Game. Those three little words have caused me more personal grief than many of you might find reasonable, and there’s a good reason for that… It’s because no one can really seem to agree on what exactly it means.
There are some who believe that (for an MMO) it means getting into character and staying in character throughout your gaming experience. There should be tools provided by the developers for this purpose. Anything that hints at a linear experience isn’t an RPG.
Then, there are those who believe that RPG should be a rigid adherence to the games that have always fallen into that category: from Dragon Warrior to Baldur’s Gate. RPG is a gaming category definition that must be rigidly adhered to. It should be third person, use a map and an action bar. I should talk to NPCs and get quests.
Let’s not forget the folks that fall into the category of: If you play a character of any kind in the game, you’re playing a role so it’s a role playing game. These folks are fewer and further between because this argument breaks down most easily when you consider the fact that almost every game available on the market today would be an RPG under this definition. If you look like an FPS, don’t call yourself and MMORPG.
So, where do I personally come down on this topic? After much soul searching and thought, I’d decided that I’m going to sit firmly on the fence and say that everyone is a little bit right.
I consider RPG to be a loose term that shouldn’t be rigidly defined. I believe that, over time, that term has evolved to encompass a lot of different perspectives. As an avid pen and paper DnD player, I see the value in getting in to character. As an old school RPG fan, I can see the validity in wanting to see more games with the RPG moniker sticking to the old formula, and I see the point to be made in the argument that it’s really just about immersing yourself in a character experience.
The thing is, the term has evolved so much and means so many things to so many different people, that one single set of rules can’t really govern it. So, the way I see it, it really comes down to something that’s going to tick off the people who want a firm definition so that they can tell me how stupid I am for listing game X or game Y: it’s about the spirit of an RPG. Things like: does your character progress? Do they change, Do they follow a story? Is the game world persistent? Is your character?
Answers to these questions and more help me to decide if a game should be listed at MMORPG.com. Like it or not, our little genre is growing up and we have to be willing to accept it in its many different shapes and sizes… Even if we don’t necessarily like the results.