RPG. Wait, what three letters did you think I was referencing? I’m talking about the genre of games that exists called, the Role Playing Game. I remember a time “back in my day” when I was confused as to why so many people liked this style of game. Quite frankly, I thought RPGs were kind of lame.
Why was that though? My first experience with a game that had any sort of RPG-style element to it was Fallout: New Vegas. While I did enjoy the game, aside from the traumatic experience of Radscorpions, it didn’t quite sell the RPG style to me. Of course, I know that there were other games that I should have given a try for my first RPG instead of Fallout. That said, if we direct ourselves to our nearest search engine and look up what the internet classifies as an RPG, it describes it as such:
“A role-playing game (RPG) is a genre of video game where the gamer controls a fictional character (or characters) that undertakes a quest in an imaginary world.”
Sounds kind of…dull doesn’t it? While that is a broad summary of what an RPG is, it’s not the only thing I feel it can be. We often use games as an escape from reality or whatever else we want to take a break from. I feel that games that fall under the RPG genre are some of the best games to play if we want to escape. Not only do they let us be whoever we want to but they also give us the ability to express our creativity in a different way compared to games within other genres.
The big thing that people love about RPGs is it lets them be whatever they want to be. If they want to be a badass, one-armed warrior that has a strange obsession with jewels, then they can be. Or if they want to be a cleric that accidentally murders someone while they try to heal them instead, they can do that too. It essentially lets us live out some of our fantasies of being the super hero we had when we were younger. Granted, this can be said about a decent amount of games; hence why many of us spent years running around as someone in a suit of power armor in a rather iconic shade of green. I feel that RPGs take that to the next level however, you can do more than just give your character a name similar to that of Bilbo Baggins if you so choose. It’s that extra level of creativity that sneaks its way into the game that can really define your game.
Speaking of creativity and it sneaking its way into things, this is another reason that I personally, and I’m sure many others, came to enjoy RPGs. By giving you the opportunity to be whatever class and/or race of character you want to be, they are letting you express your creativity. While that is the very basic form of it, if we take a look at a tabletop RPG such as D&D, you can be as creative as your mind can be. Say you just rolled a natural 20 to crit that goblin for the killing blow. You can now decide exactly how you want to kill said goblin. Maybe it will be death by a thousand stings…or an exploding rubber duck. However you want to do it is all up to you. Remember though, goblins are people too…or at least they were until they decided to attack your group of travelers.
Letting your creativity out during your time playing these games can lead to many things. I’ve often said I’m not the most creative person, however with more of the tabletop RPG-style games I’ve been playing in recent months, it has definitely helped with my bouts of not being overly creative. While (probably) not scientifically proven, it seems to help develop the ability to think quickly on the spot as well. You are now sinking into a pit of quicksand like material, what do you do to try and get out? When you are given this ability to decide however things turn out in your game, it can create some really amazing and memorable moments.
Obviously, you can say the previous statements about any game in any genre. However, I feel RPGs are one of the best to actually let us do this. In my earlier days of playing games I played a lot of shooters, and while it’s still probably my favorite genre of game to play, now I’m very picky when it comes to picking up a new game in that genre. This can be chalked up to many things, but I think the biggest reason is because to some extent I want to actually feel like I’m affecting the game. I can’t do that when I’m being guided to an end goal on a seemingly linear path.
I guess if I had to put a point to this it would be that RPGs can be so much more than just controlling a fictional character and undertaking a quest rooted in an imaginary world. They can be a means for us to be someone (or something) we’re not in our boring, everyday lives. They can be playgrounds to let us express our creative thinking without fear of serious consequences. Most importantly though, they can be fun; which is something I learned reluctantly.