Home Gaming Flamebate Friday Debate: What makes an RPG an RPG?

Flamebate Friday Debate: What makes an RPG an RPG?

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FFDRPG

The term RPG is thrown around a lot these days – but what exactly is it that makes an RPG an RPG? Spurred on, obviously, by Fallout 4 winning DICE’s RPG of the year ahead of The Witcher 3, a discussion on twitter kicked off around Fallout 4’s merits as an RPG.

According to the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, an RPG is:

A role-playing game (RPG and sometimes roleplaying game) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting or through a process of structured decision-making or character development.

Essentially, a game is a computer RPG if it features player-driven development of a persistent character or characters via the making of consequential choices– and that’s the important bit, I think. That the choices have consequence. To that end, Both the Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 are RPGS. As for which is best…well, I’ll leave that to you.

Last Updated: February 19, 2016

No Comments

  1. Gavin Mannion

    February 19, 2016 at 10:33

    So according to that definition Call of Duty is a RPG as well..

    Awesome I love RPG’s then

    Reply

    • Aries

      February 19, 2016 at 10:48

      what was it again, press X to mourn or something, lol

      Reply

      • Gavin Mannion

        February 19, 2016 at 10:54

        please nothing that cheesy.. it was to pay respects 😉

        Reply

        • Aries

          February 19, 2016 at 10:56

          Next time CoD asks to pay respects, they going ask for credit card details as well

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn

            February 19, 2016 at 10:57

            Or stroke the shaft

          • Aries

            February 19, 2016 at 10:57

            lol

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            February 19, 2016 at 11:06

            Then I’ll burn my controller, unless it’s a Deadpool game…because that’s at least expected…

    • AfricanTime

      February 19, 2016 at 10:52

      Like destiny…

      Reply

    • Captain JJ and his ensigns

      February 19, 2016 at 10:59

      Suddenly I’m less of an RPG fan 😛

      Reply

    • Darren Peach

      February 19, 2016 at 11:54

      You are not wrong. What made advanced warfare more RPG ish was the unlockable gear and unique weapon variants. BOP3 was a step backwards.

      Reply

  2. Umar

    February 19, 2016 at 10:37

    I agree on that statement as well, so why then, do people still want to argue whether or not Dark Souls is an RPG. The reason that it focuses on combat is absolute doodoo.

    Reply

  3. DragonSpirit009

    February 19, 2016 at 10:48

    Eh there is so many games with twist and turns in them that fitting the game term RPG is kinda hard these days. But to me those terms don’t really apply to me… I just play it no matter what genre it is.

    Reply

  4. Hammersteyn

    February 19, 2016 at 10:49

    The whole issue exists because people dont want Fallout to eclipse Witcher as the better game and vice a versa. Both are excellent games and playing just one is doing yourself a disservice

    Reply

    • Umar

      February 19, 2016 at 10:51

      LOL While this is a good topic though, people seem to get real emotional over Witcher 3.

      Reply

      • Aries

        February 19, 2016 at 10:52

        But the Witcher 3 was something, it just felt right to play, never felt like I should stop playing, where with fallout 4, Ive stopped awhile ago without finishing the game

        Reply

        • schitsophrenic-toothbrush

          February 19, 2016 at 10:54

          I played both games broken! I think they should all be nice and share :p

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn

            February 19, 2016 at 10:57

            Same here. Both had problems. I got bored of minute man quests in Fallout and with Witcher it was chasing down yet another question mark on the map

          • schitsophrenic-toothbrush

            February 19, 2016 at 11:00

            Finished Bos, Institute and Railroad, for sum reason I couldnt finish Minuteman. Even though I planned my Save games properly. Good to hear it wasnt that great.

            Speaking of Witcher I discovered all question marks on the main map, when I go to the Island I shat myself and decided to give up. Was way too much.

          • Aries

            February 19, 2016 at 11:02

            Witcher3 side quests are mostly fun, has some really decent ones

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            February 19, 2016 at 11:10

            That’s the thing though, the side quests were unbelievable, every single one was done in so much detail that it was like playing a little added game inside this massive yet beautifully crafted world, yet, hunting down all of those question marks, especially the Skellige ones, drove me mad…

          • Aries

            February 19, 2016 at 11:22

            Im not usually a competionist, but I finished all the side quests before I got the main one just not to miss out or fail a quest because of story progression

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            February 19, 2016 at 11:23

            Yep!! I did the same!

          • Original Heretic

            February 19, 2016 at 11:19

            Had the same issue! Just couldn’t do all those island questions marks.

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            February 19, 2016 at 11:00

            That’s the issue with open world games, if the place is littered with said question marks, especially the ones in Skellige, you get tired of having to sit on a boat(the slowest form of transport in the game) just to reach those areas… Whereas having repeated quests have absolutely no value to add to the game whatsoever, yet everyone goes mal crazy about how much fun it is…

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            February 19, 2016 at 11:02

            I tend to agree with you.

          • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

            February 19, 2016 at 11:04

            Great minds man, great minds…

          • Pariah

            February 19, 2016 at 11:03

            Well in the case of Fallout 4, everyone played it broken… 😛

      • Hammersteyn

        February 19, 2016 at 10:57

        Because Geralt portrays the second coming of RPG games. Because Witcher started on PC and is now sullied by peasants that has joined the party. I think the master race is pissed because some struggle to understand just what the big deal is.

        Reply

      • Pariah

        February 19, 2016 at 11:02

        And yet I’ll never play it because the first 2 bored me plenty. To be fair, the same is probably true for Fallout 4.

        Reply

        • ElimiNathan

          February 19, 2016 at 12:27

          Do it. I played Witcher 2 and hated it. Witcher 3 is amazing

          Reply

          • Pariah

            February 19, 2016 at 12:28

            No thanks. 🙂

    • Jan Prins

      February 19, 2016 at 10:54

      My word! I now know why my life is so empty and devoid of meaning! I have only briefly played either game!

      Reply

  5. Jan Prins

    February 19, 2016 at 10:49

    So… The Ultimate role playing game is The Sims then? Because the amount of choices I have to make in that game to progress…

    First time I thought about it like that…

    Reply

  6. Greylingad[CNFRMD]

    February 19, 2016 at 10:56

    What makes a good RPG, that’d be a stable trigger that pushes through the conductive cone, to push onto the conductor, which would then in turn compress the detonator, which would ignite the explosives set next to the inner layer of the body, causing the desired effect of a remote explosion, sometimes, made at a safe distance…

    Reply

    • Captain JJ and his ensigns

      February 19, 2016 at 11:01

      Well, that makes it a standard RPG. 😛

      Reply

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        February 19, 2016 at 11:04

        HAHAHA!

        Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      February 19, 2016 at 11:01

      But what about a JRPG?

      Reply

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        February 19, 2016 at 11:02

        That’d be the Dud…

        Reply

    • BakedBagel

      February 19, 2016 at 11:09

      “sometimes at a safe distance”

      There is always the one, that will not go that safe distance.

      Reply

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        February 19, 2016 at 11:13

        There are also those that get permanent blow waved hair-doos by standing directly behind said individuals, also, ones that can’t aim properly…

        Reply

  7. Spathi

    February 19, 2016 at 10:59

    “..it really, really isn’t. An adventure game is Tomb Raider – a BIG difference”

    I lolled..

    Anyway, everyone is WRONG!!! What makes an RPG is either one of two things present in a game:

    1) Character progression – stats, skills, talents, etc
    2) Choices that alter the game story or progression.

    If a game has either one or both of the above, it can be stated that the game is a RPG, or is a game with RPG elements present. It all depends on the prevalence of those elements, and the other elements in a specific game.

    SUCK IT!

    Reply

    • Captain JJ and his ensigns

      February 19, 2016 at 10:59

      I agree with you on this.

      Reply

    • Pariah

      February 19, 2016 at 11:01

      So Binding of Isaac is an RPG by this definition… K.

      Reply

      • Captain JJ and his ensigns

        February 19, 2016 at 11:02

        The character progression is a must though in an RPG for me.
        Without that it’s just a shooter or a 3rd person adventure

        Reply

        • Pariah

          February 19, 2016 at 11:04

          Binding of Isaac actually has both of those things he mentioned.

          Reply

          • Spathi

            February 19, 2016 at 11:05

            Serious question, in what genre would you place Binding of Isaac? Don’t you think it has RPG elements present, because I definitely think so.

          • Pariah

            February 19, 2016 at 11:06

            It’s a rogue-lite, but I don’t consider it an RPG at all. It has RPG elements, but it isn’t an RPG. Its a randomly generated dungeon crawler rogue-lite with RPG elements.

          • Spathi

            February 19, 2016 at 11:09

            Well, I do agree with you. And it falls nicely within my definition of a RPG above 😛

            To quote a wise man:

            “If a game has either one or both of the above, it can be stated that the game is a RPG, or is a game with RPG elements present. It all depends on the prevalence of those elements, and the other elements in a specific game.”

          • Pariah

            February 19, 2016 at 11:10

            I hate you. Not really. But you’re right and I didn’t fully read. So this egg on my face hates you too.

            XD

          • Spathi

            February 19, 2016 at 11:11

            I’m just being an asshole due to it being FFD 😀

          • Pariah

            February 19, 2016 at 11:13

            Oh yeah? Well. Well……. Well… You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny…

            *sulks*

          • Captain JJ and his ensigns

            February 19, 2016 at 11:55

            Never played that actually

      • Spathi

        February 19, 2016 at 11:02

        Read again… K.

        Reply

    • miaau

      February 19, 2016 at 11:21

      Diablo 2? Did not ” Choices that alter the game story or progression.”

      Was it an RPG? or just a hack n slash action game (glorious game) with character traits and skill?

      Reply

      • Spathi

        February 19, 2016 at 11:25

        But it has character progression. It’s an or, not an and.

        Edit: To answer your question, I believe it is an action game and RPG in equal measures, thus an action RPG!

        Reply

        • miaau

          February 19, 2016 at 13:09

          which is exactly what they called it. hmm… Complicated question: What is an RPG? (game, not launcher of missiles)

          Reply

  8. schitsophrenic-toothbrush

    February 19, 2016 at 11:01

    New “PC” genre labels for games from now on – “RPG……possibly?”

    Reply

  9. Pariah

    February 19, 2016 at 11:09

    For me the most important thing that essentially makes a game an RPG is if it feels like you’re living as someone else and playing through their story. Character development, stats, etc. don’t matter. Are you playing the ROLE of that character? Is it a story? Does it feel like you’re making choices and living in their world, as them? Yes? It’s an RPG.

    Reply

  10. The Sten

    February 19, 2016 at 11:10

    They are both action Adventure with RPG elements.

    Reply

  11. Guild

    February 19, 2016 at 11:16

    I agree with Geoff. RPG as I know it was pen and paper Dungeon and Dragons. You relied on the roll of dice and chance, kept track of your stats and progression and entered into a dialogue with the Dungeon Master where choices had consequences. Pretty much like Baldurs Gate. Fallout 4 and Witcher 3 are adventure games with RPG elements.

    Reply

    • miaau

      February 19, 2016 at 11:20

      Enough said, thanks.

      Problem is, if you have never played pen and paper Advanced D&D (D&D sucked), then you simply will not get this.

      Reply

      • Jan Prins

        February 19, 2016 at 11:27

        I never played that. Rodney Seale told me I’ll be summoning demons by the end of the night if I played D&D…

        Reply

        • miaau

          February 19, 2016 at 12:16

          Yeah, but no. Sad. Also, the same people that said that banned My Little Pony (Satanic), Smurfs (they went to Pappa smurf with their problems, not God). My mother had a friend who, in the 80’s worked in government censorship (what was the department’s name? Was it just the Film and Publications board?) in SA. Yeah.

          Reply

    • Pariah

      February 19, 2016 at 12:29

      That’s D&D, one pretty hardcore aspect of RPGs.

      But its not the only way to RPG

      Reply

  12. Commander Admiral Chief

    February 19, 2016 at 11:17

    I don’t care.

    I just want KoTOR 3

    So stop debating, and get this game in my life!

    Reply

    • Jan Prins

      February 19, 2016 at 11:23

      But we are all Master Debators!

      Reply

    • Pariah

      February 19, 2016 at 12:30

      This

      Reply

    • Guild

      February 19, 2016 at 14:25

      What happened to XCOM 2? You finish it and bored already?

      Reply

      • Commander Admiral Chief

        February 19, 2016 at 15:20

        K3 needs to be on the future watchlist so I can be happy something awesome is going to be in my future

        Reply

  13. miaau

    February 19, 2016 at 11:20

    The definition of RPG is loose enough, however, to include Need For Speed Most Wanted.

    Reply

  14. Original Heretic

    February 19, 2016 at 11:23

    I always figured that if a game allowed you to level up and choose new things, it had RPG elements to it. Even Borderlands has those elements.

    But if you want to get all true and get down to the bare bones and try and say that chracter choices influence the outcome of the game, no digital game (PC, console, whatever), is ever really going to be a true RPG, since all those outcomes are there fro the start, hard-wired into the game. You can unlock an alternate ending, but you’re never truly going to change the game or have the freedom that those in the pen & paper classic would have.

    Reply

    • Spathi

      February 19, 2016 at 11:29

      Don’t be so sure. Skynet is coming. We’ll all be NPCs in a survival RPG!

      Reply

      • Original Heretic

        February 19, 2016 at 11:35

        It’s already here!

        Reply

  15. Lardus-For the Chimichangas!

    February 19, 2016 at 11:37

    I want decisions that matter. I want my character to grow. I want my squad and interaction to matter and grow. I do not want the end to be pre-determined (like DA:I felt). Some games pull it off wonderfully (like ME if you waited for extended cut). Some lack a bit in some departments while being better in others – does not mean one game is a “true RPG” and the other isn’t. The Mass Effect trilogy has thus far been my best/favourite RPG series. Just wish we could get an awesome one in the Warhammer 40K universe.

    Reply

    • konfab

      February 19, 2016 at 16:33

      You can have an upvote.

      Reply

  16. Greylingad[CNFRMD]

    February 19, 2016 at 11:39

    Do RPGs have to have DRM? Or…

    Reply

    • Spathi

      February 19, 2016 at 12:12

      Are you trying to summons Ryanza?

      Reply

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        February 19, 2016 at 12:19

        I’m sure he’ll drop in without me performing the whole ritual…

        Reply

  17. Ghost In The Rift

    February 19, 2016 at 11:48

    Best Example ill ever use for a RPG, KOTOR, that’s all, i’m done.

    Reply

    • miaau

      February 19, 2016 at 12:23

      Neverwinter nights. Baldurs Gate. Yes, and Kotor.

      Pools of Radiance. Curze of the Azure bonds. Played those two on computer AND was dungeon master for the adventures, with my friends. Choices mattered there. Real implications.

      Reply

  18. Darren Peach

    February 19, 2016 at 11:50

    My girlfriend likes to wear leather and high heel steel tipped boots in the beroom…… that is a rpg…..

    Reply

  19. Darren Peach

    February 19, 2016 at 11:56

    Can anyone remember a game called Rogue on pc ?

    Reply

  20. Kromas untamed

    February 19, 2016 at 12:00

    This does not make sense than because Wolfenstein would be a RPG just because of the one choice you get in the game.

    I propose we add degrees of RPGness.

    For instance. Mass Effect 1 is a full on RPG. Mass Effect 2 is an Action RPG and Mass Effect 3 is an Action game since your choices don’t matter. 🙂

    Reply

    • konfab

      February 19, 2016 at 16:51

      I will exterminate you like I exterminated Mordin.

      Reply

  21. Dane

    February 19, 2016 at 13:43

    An RPG is a game that plays itself so long as you complete the objectives.

    Reply

  22. Gardos

    February 19, 2016 at 14:15

    FIFA is the ultimate RPG. (but seriously, they should make some proper sports RPGs)

    Reply

  23. Alien Emperor Trevor

    February 19, 2016 at 14:17

    Whoever said F4 isn’t an RPG? Both it & W3 are, they just approach the genre differently. The main thing for me is how the game merges the story with all the mechanics like char creation, stats, leveling, etc – the mechanics all contribute to your playing the story. If the story’s just something that happens in the background while you’re clicking on stuff, like Diablo, Borderlands or Dark Souls, then it’s not an RPG as far as I’m concerned. They can call themselves RPGs because they use some of the mechanics if they want to, but that’s like winning a participation trophy.

    Reply

  24. Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    February 19, 2016 at 16:23

    Sigh Nick…

    I think I need to start trolling you again. It’s clear you need me. I will be your compass! I will be your guiding light! For far too long you’ve been left in the dark.

    Reply

  25. Mark Treloar

    February 19, 2016 at 16:49

    This is how you RPG

    Reply

  26. konfab

    February 19, 2016 at 16:50

    I view RPG games as a spectrum, you have games that have RPG mechanics but little player choice (Stick of Truth), player choice but little RPG mechanics (Fallout New Vegas), RPG mechanics and lots of player choice (Dragon Age:Origins, Kotor), little player choice and little RPG mechanics (Far Cry Blood Dragon)

    In the end, picking the “best” RPG is like trying to pick your favorite colour under a sodium light.

    Reply

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