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What makes an RPG -- an RPG?


Since the beginning of 2010, several "Trip-A" game titles have come out. Each title has had varying degrees of reactions, and all of them are different in there own way. Without dropping game names, I must ask this question, "So, what actually makes an RPG an RPG?" "What elements, or understanding of the genre in general, make-up what we consider to be a Role Playing Game?" I really think this is a question that needs to be addressed by everyone.

I have gone back and forth on this issue and have had many, many discussions and arguments on-line concerning this difference of opinion. I think that I've come to the deep conclusion that, "this is an subjective question". No different than, "What a makes a good game, good?". One could easily say, "Well.... clearly you have no taste. That's why you think it's good.", as obnoxious as that sounds. But another person could turn around and tell me the very same thing. So, who's right?

I honestly don't know.

For most of last month, I truly believed that many people were "lying to themselves", or making excuses because of the name on the front of the box. I believed that people were seriously trying to convince themselves of "Design Choices" vs. "Real Substance". I laughed at what I considered to be really sad and absurd behavior at not being able to differentiate between a "Classic RPG" and "Wishful Thinking".

But now that some time has passed, I see that maybe that view may have been a little harsh. Who am 'I' to say what a person enjoys and what they don't? If that's what they honestly feel, who am I to judge? I mean, nobody has appointed me as the "RPG Goddess". Determined to get to the heart of the issue, I recently talked to a good friend of mine, who's opinion I value. The two of us have very different taste in games. You could almost say, polar-opposite. I seem to be drawn to wide range of Trip-A titles or indie games, spanning various systems. She like the safe, and but sometimes obscure games -- along with one very popular franchise, which is only on the PS2/PS3.

Now, if she tells me that she is enjoying a particular RPG despite it's flaws, then I have no reason not to believe her. She, like myself, is very opinionated and stubborn. She wouldn't lie about something so trivial. If she likes something, she'll say so. And if not, she'll tell me that as well. I can't say that I understand fully, but I see now that she, like many others, is not suffering from some sort of mass hallucination. They really do like "this particular game", and are not just saying otherwise to cover-up an inner-fanboyism.

Mmm.... so now I have to stop, rethink, and then ask myself a second question? "How much do my personal expectations truly play a part of what I consider to be good?" If personal expectations play a big part, how can one change this? Should a person even bother to try?

If I may relate a story; there was situation regarding the passing of a family member, 2 years ago now. There was a woman there who I'd never met before. I could see that she was very rich and even smelled like money. During the viewing, she came up to me -- not to say, "I'm sorry for your loss" but to inform me how she and "Ron" (who died) often went the opera with her and her husband. "Um... Ok?" She went on and on, about how they had "season tickets every year to the bluh, bluh, bluh opera house, in downtown bluh, bluh, bluh."

Anyway.... stepping over how obnoxious this chick was. I just looked at her as if she was on drugs or something. Had I not been so upset about Ron's passing, I probably would have laughed in her face. Why? Because the "Ron" that I knew watched Aqua Teens Hunger Force, and Venture Bros. He played Mario Party and Zelda on GameCube/DS. He listened to Pink Floyd. He'd watch goofy chick shows, all sorts of silly movies, and would tell funny sex jokes upon occasion. So, what the hell was this snooty b*tch talking about?

Again, I simply looked at her and thought, "Wow! You really didn't "KNOW" him that well did you, honey? So what are you even doing here, and why are you telling me this?" And of course Ron is dead and can't defend himself either way.

Where am I going with this? My point being is, "expectations will burn you every time". I don't doubt that "Ron" went to the opera with little Ms. Stuck-up. Ron liked talking to people and socializing, which was his favorite thing to do, more then anything. But in the case of THIS women, she saw exactly what she wanted to see -- another person/couple, that was stuck-up like she was. That is what she expected to see, even thought that wasn't the truth or the whole story. If she knew the truth.... especially about the Aqua Teens, it would blow her whole world apart to realize that there's more then what you see on the surface.

So how much of this behavior do we bring on ourselves? How much of our own expectations influence the enjoyment of our favorite media? And is it possible, at this point, to bring down these expectations to normal levels? We gamers tend to get so wrapped up in the nuances of what the "Big 3" and every game developer is doing, almost to the exclusion of everything else in our own lives.

How do we gamers recognize the signs of this behavior before it strikes again and consumes us all?!? Like the moffa (or the darkside), "it keeps pulling us back in". For the sake of not ending up like this deeply self-deluded, stuck-up, Ms. Know-it-all, mentioned above I, for one, am going to try. Hope springs eternal, and that's a good place to start.

The two questions that I'll leave you with, my fellow gamers.
1.) What makes an RPG -- an RPG?
2.) Do our expectations influence the enjoyment of gaming?
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About FunkzillaBOTone of us since 6:48 PM on 06.11.2009

Gamer, Musician, Artist.

A gamer has gotta game, other then that, this is where I spend most of my time:

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The Ground Rules. 0_0

Do NOT expect “Loyalty” to one game console over another. Let's just get that out of the way right now, because I don’t want to hear it. I own all three current generation consoles, plus some older systems and handhelds. The only loyalty I have is to myself, family and my very close friends. That’s how it will always be. However, I do have gaming loyalties to certain franchises. That I will own up too. And my viewpoints about them are pretty solid. (example: Zelda, Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, etc.)

Do NOT ask me anything stupid, like “What’s the point of this?” What is the point of anything? What is the point of breathing in and out? This and any other similar statements translate to “I’m bored, and I just feel like picking a fight, instead of doing something worth while for myself, so I’m going to shit on someone else.” Well, save that up for your mom.

Do NOT flame bait. You can if you want to, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I will answer you.

Do NOT assume. For the obvious reason of not looking like a stupid fool. If you are confused about a statement, my way of writing, or just want to know a view point of mine THEN ASK ME! It’s as simple as that, no need to make things more complicated. We’re only talking about video game and not world peace.

Do NOT re-write or email me some LONG WINDED explanation about how I got “it” wrong and your version is "right". Seriously, don't! Again, I don’t want to hear it. That’s why I’m now writing “stories” and not “articles”, I SUCK at writing articles, and I KNOW that. Writing personal stories from a first perpective, is what I do best. If some of the basic information that I've written, is wrong I wouldn’t be that surprised. I do my best to check the fact before hand, now, but I'm only human and may not catch everything. I may view the things in a sort of “Camille-o-Vision", which makes the story or situation seem 10 timer then it actually was. Which is is why I’m good at writing stories.

Do NOT remind me about capitalization. I know, that's the way I write. So suck it up and don't whine about it. If you really want to complain about something so trivial then start your own blog page, it's free.

I am a reasonable person, so if you’re cool with me, then I’ll be cool with you. If you just trolled over to be a dick.... like I stated above, save that up for your mom. We’re here to talk about a subject we all love, so let’s try to have some class.
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