May 6, 2024
4 min read

Isn't Every Game an RPG?

Isn't Every Game an RPG?

Is Every Game an RPG?

At some point you may think to yourself:

"Don’t you play some sort of role in pretty much every game?" 

Even in Pong you played a “role” of a rectangular shape that fights off a similar looking rectangular opponent attempting to destroy your home planet with a round sphere shaped doomsday device… or something like that? 

Point being, is playing a role a defining part of RPG? Or is it more than that? Let’s try to find out together! 

What is an RPG?

There are some things that every RPG enthusiast associates with the genre. 

Concepts like levelling up, character progression, performing quests with rewards and plot relevancy. And on a rather amusing note, the “role-playing” aspect doesn’t really play that big part in video games! At least for the majority of players. 

There are definitely people who go into the experience with actual backstories for their characters and maybe even some of their own lore within the game world that they’re playing, no doubt about it. But they are not the majority, far from it.

So, with that in mind, what could be considered RPG in a very traditional sense then?

Traditional elements that make up an RPG

The person behind this screen will affect how much fun you'll have each session.

There are few important parts that video games CANNOT replicate from the classic TTRPG experience. The adaptive storytelling, the freedom of action and consequences of said actions.

You, a player, can do things within the confines of mechanics, animations and rules created within the video game. 

You cannot do something that’s not implemented. That is a fact. It doesn’t mean it’ll never be possible, as modding a game is always an option. But there’s always going to be something that you simply cannot do.

That is not a limitation within traditional TTRPG. You don’t have to own a model of a creature (but it helps!), imagination and the DM will “create” everything you might need. You don’t have to save the princess from the necromancer, instead you can join him and overthrow the kingdom. 

You don’t even have to be the character you’re playing right now, simply create a new one, within the same world, by joining the party you’re currently in after “retiring” the older one.

You CAN do all of that. Depending on the DM you could do pretty much anything as long as the rest of the table is okay with it.

That’s the reality of video game RPGs, there will always be something you can’t do.

With the release of Baldur’s Gate 3, people had a chance to glimpse how far a dedicated team of veteran developers can take the “what if I do that?” idea that TTRPG players enjoyed for decades and ,unsurprisingly, it won game of the year.

Future of video game RPGs might become even brighter in the coming years!

Role of player agency and immersion

Sometimes the story just takes you some really, really depressing places...
Source: NieR:Automata by Square Enix

A typical RPG game has an overarching story, it is important to give an important objective for the player to fulfil. It’s a way of introducing characters to the world they’re inhabiting, while at the same time making sure that every challenge they tackle has an “ultimate” test and a (hopefully) satisfying conclusion of the story. 

Obviously it’s not just RPGs that have that but at this point, there’s a higher expectation put on gripping story in an RPG than what you’d expect from say… an open world or a sandbox game.

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Gameplay focus and objectives

Tackling a problem together can really make a difference! Especial a huge one...
Source: Elden Ring - FromSoftware

But impressive stories and great characters aren't the only important aspects of course! 

To fully embrace the full scope of an RPG, the gameplay has to be engaging enough for the player to enjoy reaching the high points of the storyline. 

One-hitting hyped end boss would absolutely shatter any immersion a player has. 

You ARE your character within the game. Their struggles and successes feel as if you’d achieved them yourself and gameplay should reflect that. 

The frustrations from defeats and enjoyment from overcoming the odds comes from proper game design. 

Players will do their thing of course but gently coercing them towards fitting challenges can help channel their attention to where developers want their attention to be focused on. 

In TTRPG it’s usually called railroading but the flow of the story and gameplay in video games can often be shattered if you over level and grind into max level before tackling the story. 

Ultimately, the choice as to how the game is meant to be played should belong to the player but spare a thought for poor devs who created a cool challenge at the start of the game, only for it to be skipped by metagaming players.

Is Origins: The Fall of Azoria also an RPG?

Our company Dreams Quest is currently producing a mobile ARPG called Origins: The Fall of Azoria. It’ll include a colourful, intricate world full of mysteries and secret knowledge, deep lore, fun puzzles and of course action packed combat. 

Check out our social media links to Twitter(X), Youtube , Discord and more on top and the bottom of the article for more relevant info!

FAQs about classifying RPG games

How Do RPG Elements Enhance Gaming Experiences Across Different Genres?

While the RPG mechanics don’t work for every game in existence, the idea of character progression and improvement is usually a welcome addition.

Should Games Evolve to Incorporate More RPG Elements?

Similarly to the previous point, having more “options” is rarely a bad thing. So long as the player has the choice to incorporate the parts of the gameplay mechanics by his own choice rather than having RPG mechanics forced upon him. 

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