What Is An RPG? These Days, Nobody Knows The Answer
After BioWare admitted that the lines between role-playing games and other genres are blurrier than ever, I had to ask myself: does anyone really have a definition that's accurate and accepted by all RPG fans?
Nope. Not possible. You could discuss and argue for days and just when you think you've settled on an agreeable definition, someone tosses a wrench into the works. There's simply too much to consider. I do remember a time when RPGs were plainly RPGs. Granted, even then, the "purists" would say that only D&D is actually "role-playing" so something like Final Fantasy doesn't count.
But for the most part, it wasn't hard to spot. Oh look, Legend of Legaia...yup, RPG. And there's Fighting Force...not an RPG. That's an obvious example but you get my drift, I'm sure. These days, with developers seeking to provide gamers with more complete experiences, regardless of genre, boundaries are crossed all the time. The result is a series of mixed breeds that confuse our classifications.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is obviously an RPG. But many will claim that something like Bioshock is more RPG than FPS, and in truth, there are plenty of RPG elements in many action/adventure games these days. Assassin's Creed is a great example. You can't just go, "oh, you level up; it must be an RPG," anymore. Dead Island will let you level up; is that an RPG? Well, maybe.
Side bar: We spoke to Techland yesterday about their zombie project, but all that information is embargoed until Thursday.
Being a long-time fan of RPGs, I will freely admit that I don't have the answer. I'm plenty confused. But I guess I don't mind; I've just reached the point where I know if I enjoy a game, and that's all that matters.
8/30/2011 9:31:36 PM Ben Dutka