2005-10-07

RPGs are not games

I had a sudden realization today. As realizations go, it was a relatively minor one. But it was still interesting, and I thought I would share it here.

RPGs are NOT games.

A game is a test of skill, in which there are winners and losers. Chance may be involved, persistence may be involved-- but these are not the only elements. For example, baseball, bowling, and Pac-Man are games. They reward skill-- maybe very different skills, but skills nonetheless.

In contrast, RPGs are almost purely "interactive movies" with complex plots and well-developed characters. In a good RPG, you care about the plot, and feel like you are part of the story.

The skills required to play are negligible... anyone can "level up" if they sit in front of the TV long enough. The thrill that people get out of playing RPGs is not the thrill of competition, or gaming, but the thrill of "role playing." Geeky teenagers can feel like they are powerful wizards. Awkward people can identify with popular characters. And so on.

If so-called "Role-playing games" are not "games"... then what are they? I would call them pastimes. This puts them in the same category as stamp collecting, knitting, and kite-flying-- popular things to do back before computers were invented.

I hope you enjoyed this rant. It contains 100% of your daily dose of vitriol. Oh yeah, and all of this stuff goes DOUBLE for online RPGs.

1 Comments:

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