2012-03-19 : If it isn't an RPG, is it still an RPG?
Down here, Matthijs says:
If you/we want to make RPGs that appeal to non-gamers, and you/we are willing to make them into something people won’t call an RPG…
...what exactly are you/we doing? Just making games, right?
What’s the point of thinking about them as RPGs anymore?
Maybe no point! Maybe it’s only that I have some practice designing RPGs, so that thinking of them as RPGs reminds me of the design lessons I’ve learned.
But there are a couple of things I can say that may help clarify my position.
One: I’m not talking about just making games, no, I’m still talking about making RPGs. To me, the crucial feature that makes a game an RPG is that it works by the (so-called) lumpley primple: in order to play, we have to create fictional stuff and agree that, for gameplay purposes, it’s true. This is a pretty technical and inclusive definition. It includes Once Upon a Time and that game where you sit in a circle and pretend that some of you are werewolves, for instance.
Now, while those two examples both count as RPGs to me, neither of them brings out my favorite features of roleplaying. I think I can design games that DO bring out my favorite features of roleplaying, but that are no more like Shadowrun than that werewolf game is. Murderous Ghosts is a pretty good example of the kind of game I’m thinking about, a solid stride in the direction I’m going.
Two: The hard core of the “but that’s not an RPG!” crowd are really pretty wrong. The “an RPG is a game in which the GM can arbitrarily kill the PCs” crowd, for instance. There are people right now who say that Apocalypse World isn’t an RPG, for Pete sake. Design pretty much anything interesting, and you’ve designed a non-RPG to someone.
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