What is an RPG?

I posted an article on SinisterDesign.net on Wednesday evening analyzing the RPG genre, looking for a common thread that ties all RPGs together. Here’s a choice quote:

RPGs are fundamentally creative games: even the ones about killing and destroying everything. Because even those RPGs aren’t really about destroying. They’re about building and shaping your character, your party, your avatar. Exploration, quests and monsters—those are the rough stone from which you mine resources to build your characters. Inheriting a complete character and trying only to slow his descent into oblivion, while potentially interesting, just doesn’t give the player the power to develop him.

It’s that creative power to mold and develop your avatar over the course of the game that makes an RPG an RPG. It is, in effect, a sort of self-improvement by proxy.

You can read the full article right here.

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  • eclectocrat says:

    Hey, love your blog. I was hoping you’d do me a little favour, if it is convenient. I want to read your article but can’t access it from China (all sorts of totally apolitical sites are unreachable for me!), so I was hoping you’d send me a copy or maybe mirror it? I’m working on an RPG now and need some insights…

    jurksztowicz # a # t #
    (bloody spambots!)
    gmail # d # o # t # c # o # m #

    Either way, thanks!

  • Callan S. says:

    Wow, that got pretty materialistic.

    You can develop the principles of a character – that’s surprisingly enough closer to the idea of character than aquiring a purple sword is.

    But atleast in computer games, what do you get – you get someone telling you what principles to follow. Otherwise called a ‘quest’. Of course a player who gets their characters principles dictated to him starts looking at material goods aquisition as ‘character development’, when really that’s laughable, because that’s all he gets in what is touted as an ‘RPG’. The laughable definition comes from laughable game design, over decades.

    How one slows ones own and others descent into oblivion might be one of the most important real life stories to tell of our age.


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