There was a time when, if you mentioned that you were playing a role playing game (RPG), most people would assume that you were playing Dungeons and Dragons. This generalized view conjures up visions of many sided dice, calculations, weird character names and character classes.
Is this view still relevant in a digital age?
Probably not. While it is possibly fair to say that all modern role playing games, have somewhere at their core an element of this approach – they are, on the whole, a lot more accessible and easier to understand. While many people still play traditional RPGs, most of us look at other forms of gaming and class it as being an RPG.
The main core elements of an RPG is a character that you play, the ability to earn experience points, collectable/upgradeable weapons & a trade or crafting based purchasing system.
All of these elements where present in Dungeons & Dragons and all of its offshoots. This has also been the case for many other RPG board games. Now, however, I think it is more common that we class computer or video games as being RPGs.
In the digital side of gaming, the RPG label is applied perhaps a little too often – even to games that many of us would actually call a first person shooter, or adventure. Yes, games can be cross genre, but I think that many of us would still frown at them being called an RPG.
Traditionally, an RPG has always been fantasy based, involving the exploration of mountain ranges or vast plains. The wildlife has always included goblins, trolls and unusual blood sucking vermin. While this can still be the case as with games like Skyrim or Dragon Age, there now seems to be a more contemporary trend that is departing away from these roots.
As gaming hardware has improved incrementally, we are continually seeing hardware pushed harder than ever before. The newest way that boundaries are being pushed is with the latest crop of open world games. These include games like Assasins Creed, Far Cry or Destiny. All of these ignore the goblin stereotype & instead create detailed new worlds and plot lines that we haven’t explored before.
We now expect to be able to go anywhere in a game map that we can see, develop our complex character, pick up anything that we find, and use those found items to craft great new things. These are all core aspects of a role playing game. They all have experience point based rewards systems, they all have currency that can be found/stolen/earned as used as we see fit.
While RPG players have traditionally been seen as the lone bedroom gamer, we are also starting to see a significant shift in this stereotype as well. The latest crop of RPGs are all marketing the fact that there is a large social side to their games. RPG fans can now play competitive multiplayer modes or assisted co-op gameplay modes. This is changing the playing field quite drastically – and by the look of things, the humble role playing game is now becoming mainstream.
It has never been a better time to be a fan of role playing games. They are moving forward and changing as they never done so before. Do yourself a favor and pick up one of the latest crop of RPGs, they will be some of the best gaming experiences we have ever had the chance to enjoy!