Before I actually get into my post today, I thought I’d give a nice bump to Google Analytics. Normally, I’m on top of all internet technologies, but evidentally I was the last person on Earth to learn about this incredible tool. Using it, I am able to see every stat concerning people who visit the site! In scary detail! Whoever it is in McNiel, TX that came to our site via search engine, you’re welcome here!

As for the title of my post; MMO Gaming. Now, this used to be known as MMORPG gaming. I was going to go into a huge discussion about how they should drop the RPG part of it as it isn’t really accurate . . . only to realize they might have already done that.

Hooray for being behind the times, eh?

Here’s my train of thought on the matter; RPG stands for Role Playing Game, but I’m not sure what constitutes a “role” in a game.

Halo is considered a FPS (First Person Shooter), but I’m still playing a role in the game, aren’t I? I’m not speaking in the manner of Master Chief (ok, bad example there) or LARP‘ing out my actions to actually kill aliens, but I’m still driving the main role in the game.

Techincally, I guess you could call Halo an Action-Shooter with First Person Perspective. WoW would be considered Fantasy-Adventure with Third Person Perspecive. Diablo would be a Side-Scrolling Fantasy-Adventure.

I started thinking about this last night as I was online playing Eve: Online. Eve is the world’s largest MMO (not largest subscription base, just largest enviroment) and is a space-based “RPG”. I use quotations, cause in all honesty Eve is more Rocket Propelled Grenade than it is Role Playing Game.

Sure, Eve has all the hallmarks of an RPG; you can learn skills and level them up, you can create an empire/corporation/alliance/guild, you can go on quests, you can alter your character’s appearance right down to cheekbone placement, and neither last nor least, you can specialize in professions through the game.

In fact, every RPG part that Eve has, it does better than any other game out there. The flip side of this is the fact that Eve doesn’t exactly have a normal learning curve:

Thing is, as much as I love this particular game (and I know other people love other ones just as much for equally good reasons), I don’t really feel like I’m role-playing while I’m flying around and blowing stuff up. Maybe that’s the first sign of addiction: denial.

So, I need feedback here; what makes an RPG game so much different than any normal game? If you strip away all other factors (camera views, shoot vs slash, space vs Middle Earth), how is it any different than other video games?

About The Author

Co-founder of Stolendroids.com and Executive Producer for Stolendroids Podcast. Also resident 'tech-head' and de-facto leader of the group.

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  • Jeremiah

    I classify a RPG as any game where you can change the outcome, whether it be how the game ends or how your character develops. KOTOR is a great example of this. If you mess with people, you become a Sith. If you help people, you don’t.

  • Zuke

    Ok, or like Fable, or Deus Ex (best game ever). I can see how that’d apply.
    Bioshock and Mass Effect would be more modern examples. However, in the words of Zero Punctuation, most of these games have you end up as either Mother Theresa or a Baby Eater with little grey area in between.

  • Bryan Schmidt

    I agree that for the literal definition of the combined words “Role” + “Playing” + “Game”, this could mean any game where you play a role other than your own reality…Which is all games btw. But the actual term has a dash in it: Role-playing game. With emphasis on the dash, it implies that the Role gets most of the action. You work hard at building up your character via small missions as doled out by the GM. So I would say that any game that inherently causes me to be concerned over my characters growth is considered an RPG. Of coarse, this could even include Forza Motorsport, and Wii Sports. It seems like “RPG” games are no longer restricted to your mother’s basement.

  • Zuke

    The Wii was an effort to get Larp’ers out of the park and back into their basement, out of view. LOL

  • Bryan Schmidt

    lol, good point