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Along for the Ride - Playing a Role in RPGs

Note: This article contains spoilers for Final Fantasy XIII and Dragon Age: Origins

�You can put a 'J' in front of it, but it's not an RPG. You don't make any choices, you don't create a character, you don't live your character... I don't know what those are - adventure games maybe? But they're not RPG's.� - Daniel Erickson, Writing Director (Bioware). Quote Link

The RPG is a strange beast, constantly evolving and changing in the current video game climate. Right now, you would be hard pressed to find a game that does not include some form of RPG elements. However, that is a different subject entirely. What Erickson is referring to here is the JRPG genre in general and questioning the validity of calling these games, specifically Final Fantasy XIII, RPGs. In broader terms we could ask essentially; what is an RPG? A far greater question than could be answered here. If I had the time and resources I could trace the history of the role-playing game from its roots in Dungeons and Dragons style RP games, through its developments across console generations and the current elements associated with an RPG game to try and form a solid definition. Instead, I would like to scale the process down a few degrees and take an analytical approach towards Erickson�s statement to see if I can develop his thoughts any further.

In the broadest terms possible, it can be argued that all games are role-playing games. There is no denying at a basic level this seems inherently true. In the majority of video game experiences we are placed in control of a specific character. We take part in their story and see it to its conclusion. Does that necessarily mean that we are playing their role though? I would be inclined to disagree.

In these situations we are offered a true, role-playing experience where we can craft our own original characters; shape the events of the story and become fully immersed within a different world. We are not limited, as in Final Fantasy XIII, to the enclosed path of the story and severely pre arranged stages of character development. In the majority of RPGs and games from other genres we lack a degree of control over the characters. We play their roles no more than when we watch Tony Stark, Frodo Baggins or Michael Corleone. We are given the illusion of role-playing but we are simply there; along for the ride.
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About Pickard12one of us since 7:26 PM on 02.24.2010

My name is James, I'm 22 years old, from the UK and a graduate of Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University. I've been playing video games since the age of 5 when I recieved a Sega Mega Drive for Christmas with Sonic The Hedgehog. My love for video games was solidified when I broke my leg at the age of 10 and spent most of my recovery time infront of my computer or holding a Playstation controller. This was also the same time I first experienced Final Fantasy 7 and The Secret of Monkey Island; two games that will always be very important to me, the former of which I would not complete until 7 years later. I continued the hobby with the purchase of a Playstation 2 and fairly decent gaming PCs. Sadly, I lost touch with the majority of the video game industry between the years of 2005-2008 in a phase known to my friends and family as 'The WoW Period'. I managed to break my addiction to the game shortly before going to university and have since acquired all three current generation consoles. My passion for video games is now stronger than ever before and I aspire to be involved in video game journalism as a career.

Thankyou for reading and I hope you enjoy the blog.

For more articles check out my main blog, Talk Gaming at https://talkgaming.blogspot.com

Constantly playing - Team Fortress 2, Dragon Age: Origins
Currently playing - Dead Space 2, New Vegas, Time Gentlemen, Please!
Looking forward to playing - L.A. Noire, Grey Matter, Gemini Rue