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Castle avatar 9:34 AM on 03.24.2011  (server time)
A Role-Player's Lament

You know, I play a crap load of video role-playing games, of all types, from Final Fantasy to Elder Scrolls. I don't discriminate. I frickin' love 'em, and probably always will. However, while playing through some RPGs recently, I realized that there was something missing. Something that my geeky little heart ached for—the goddamn role-play.

The thing that attracted me to video game RPGs in the first place was the inclination of role-play. I was so amped at the thought of assuming a character in a virtual world, and playing through a story that could be shaped through my actions. So, imagine Young Castle's surprise when he picked up Chrono Trigger for the first time and realized that instances of actual role-play were infrequent, and on such a bantam scale.

Don't misunderstand. Young Castle loved the hell out of Chrono Trigger, but what he really wanted to do was get an in-depth role-playing experience. Instead, he got a (somewhat) linear plot-driven game that merely used D&D as the foundation of its combat system.

Where is the role-play in the role-playing game? Why are there so few role-playing games that grant me the power to shape my character's physical appearance, personality, and quite possibly the outcome of the plot?

Where is the immersion?

I suppose it's why I am so attracted to franchises like Mass Effect that place an emphasis on role-playing, and less emphasis on a complex combat system. Hell, as far as I'm concerned Mass Effect is one of the few video games that live up to the “RPG” name, which really frickin' sucks.

What sucks even more is seeing games practically made for actual role-playing, like WoW or FFXI, contain very little role-play. The “RP” groups are terribly small, and are often ridiculed for doing what the developers intended for them to do.

It's not surprising, though. The primary focus in most video games is the system, after all. Gamers (not excluding pen-and-paper gamers) go nuts at the prospect of creating a powerful character and dominating their environment. You would be astounded by the amount of time and energy I poured into making my Tabletop RPG character, simply to make him a FORCE in the world he lived in.

Still, I want to role-play. Pen-and-paper games are awesome and fun and exciting, but I am a video gamer as well, and I'd like to see awesomeness of pen-and-paper games work harmoniously with the virtual world. I could be asking for too much, though.

Here's an interesting question: should games that feature little to no role-play be called “RPGs”? For example: are the DragonQuest and Diablo games role-playing games, or simply dungeon crawlers?

While you answer that, I'm going to play Tales of Destiny. =Þ

Don't be put off by the Jim Sterling joke. I think he's awesome.

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