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RPG in gaming is a genre of video and pen-and-paper gaming that has been around for decades.

This guide will explore the following:

  • origins of RPGs
  • what defines an RPG
  • various subgenres of RPGs
  • history
  • and much more.

Whether you're a veteran RPG gamer or a novice looking to learn more about this genre, this guide has something for you.


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What is RPG in Gaming?

Role-playing games (RPGs) are a type of video or pen-and-paper game in which players take on the role of a character within a fictional world.

Players navigate these virtual worlds through an avatar they control while engaging in activities such as battle, exploring dungeons, solving puzzles, talking to nonplayer characters (NPCs), completing quests, and so much more.

The genre originated in the 1970s with tabletop wargames such as Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).

What Defines an RPG?

Five essential elements define an RPG: story, characters, setting/worldbuilding, exploration/adventure, and combat game mechanics.

These elements help create an immersive experience where players can lose themselves in another world. It’s important to note that there is a difference between video games and pen-and-paper versions of RPGs.

At the same time, both involve storytelling, character development, and exploration mechanics. Video game genres usually feature combat mechanics, while tabletop versions do not.

Types of RPGs: RPG Sub Genres

Action RPGs

Action RPGs involve real-time battles where players must use their reflexes and quick thinking to defeat enemies. Examples include Diablo II or Torchlight 2.

Strategy Games

Strategy RPGs involve turn-based battles where players must think carefully about their moves to defeat enemies. Examples include Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea 5 Complete.

Adventure Games/Metroidvania

Adventure/Metroidvania games involve exploration with puzzle-solving elements mixed in. Examples include Castlevania’s Symphony Of The Night or Ori And The Blind Forest.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs)

MMORPGs involve playing alongside thousands of other players online in persistent worlds where levels can be gained by defeating monsters or completing quests from NPCs. Examples include World Of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2, etc.

Western vs. Japanese RPGs

Western role-playing games focus more on character customization and narrative choices, while Japanese play games focus more on linear stories with pre-defined characters.

Western vs. Japanese RPGs inforgraphic
  • 1. Western RPGs focus more on character customization, while Japanese RPGs have pre-defined characters.
  • 2. Western RPGs have more emphasis on narrative choices, while Japanese RPGs often follow a linear story structure.
  • 3. Western RPGs are generally built around open-world exploration, allowing players to roam freely. In contrast, Japanese RPGs usually involve set paths and levels that the player follows to advance the plotline.
  • 4. Combat mechanics vary between both types of RPG: western games tend to be action based with real-time battles, while Japanese ones are turn-based, requiring strategic thinking from the player.
  • 5. Western games emphasize collecting rare items or weapons needed for character development or progression; this is not as common in Japanese role-playing games, where upgrades come from gaining experience points or completing quests instead of finding loot drops.

Examples include Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim versus Final Fantasy VII, respectively.

Ok, now let’s look at the history.

History of RPGs

The role-playing video game genre began in the mid-1970s as an offshoot of early university mainframe text-based RPGs on PDP-10 and Unix-based computers.

These early games allowed players to explore virtual worlds using text commands, moving through dungeons, and battling monsters. The popularity of these games led to the creation of RPGs for other platforms, such as the Apple II, Commodore 64, and Atari 8-bit computers.

Discover How Tabletop Role-Playing Games Evolved into Computer RPGs

Tabletop RPG games also began around this time, with Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) becoming one of the most well-known early examples. D&D was published in 1974 and featured a fantasy world with rules that allowed players to create characters and embark on adventures together.

Tabletop RPGs such as this helped popularize many of the elements associated with RPGs today, including dice rolls and character development.

As home video game consoles became increasingly popular during the 1980s, RPGs also started appearing on those systems. Ultima I: The First Age Of Darkness is considered one of the first console RPG titles released for the Apple II in 1981.

Later console RPGs included Final Fantasy I for the NES in 1987, Dragon Quest I for the Super Famicom/NES in 1986, Phantasy Star I for Master System in 1988, and The Legend Of Zelda for NES in 1986.

These early console games defined what we know today as “JRPGs” or Japanese Role Playing Games; they featured turn-based combat systems, linear storylines, and pre-defined protagonist characters that players could not customize.

Western-style RPGs also began appearing during this period; titles such as Wizardry I: Proving Grounds Of The Mad Overlord (1981), Ultima IV: Quest Of The Avatar (1985), and Neverwinter Nights (1991) featured open-world exploration with customizable protagonists and more emphasis on narrative choices than their JRPG counterparts.

Uncover the Innovations of Classic Computer RPGs

In 1997 BioWare released Baldur’s Gate, a western RPG set within a richly detailed fantasy world developed using Dungeons & Dragons rulesets – it quickly became one of the most successful computer RPGs ever created due to its deep storyline and character customization options.

Similarly, Diablo (released in 1996) pioneered a new type of action RPG that would influence countless other games, featuring real-time battles where players had to react quickly to defeat enemies and collect loot drops from monsters they defeated along their journey.

Today there are countless role-playing games available across all platforms – from traditional tabletop pen & paper experiences like D&D or Pathfinder to action-focused dungeon crawlers like Torchlight 2 to massive online multiplayer titles like World Of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV. There is no doubt that RPGs will continue to evolve – offering new ways for players to immerse themselves in virtual worlds full of adventure & wonder!

Role Playing video games -FAQ

What is an RPG game example?

An example of a role-playing game (RPG) is the popular series The Elder Scrolls, where players can explore an immersive open world filled with fantasy creatures, powerful magic, and intense battles.

What game genre is RPG?

Role-playing games (RPGs) belong to the genre of strategy and adventure games, where players assume the role of a character in a fictional world and must build their abilities and explore their surroundings to overcome obstacles and complete quests.

What is the most realistic role-playing game?

“Disco Elysium” and “Kingdom Come: Deliverance” are two of the most realistic role-playing games. Disco Elysium features an isometric RPG system that allows players to navigate a complex, interactive world of moral complexities and challenges. Meanwhile, Kingdom Come: Deliverance provides a true-to-history medieval experience featuring open-world exploration, intense battles, and immersive quests.

Is Pokemon a role-playing game?

Yes, the original Pokémon is a role-playing game. Players control a character (called a “trainer”) and embark on an adventure to capture and train the monsters known as Pokémon. Throughout the game, trainers battle other trainers to become stronger and progress through the story.

Is GTA V an RPG?

While GTA V is not a traditional RPG, it has genre elements. For example, players can customize their characters, progress in levels, and take on missions to build their reputation. Additionally, the game features an in-depth story with branching narratives and dialogue options for the player.

What is considered the greatest RPG of all time?

Many consider Final Fantasy IX to be the greatest RPG of all time. It is praised for its captivating story, exciting characters, and challenging gameplay. Yakuza: Like a Dragon has also been praised for its innovative take on the RPG genre with an immersive world and engaging combat system.

Now It’s Your Turn

For gamers looking for an immersive experience, role-playing games are worth exploring!

Which video game RPGs do you like? How do you want the RPGs to change? Comment below and let me know now!

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