What is an RPG? …wait, we'll give you a month – or a year – to get back to us.
BioWare, one of the premier role-playing developers, has admitted that the lines are becoming blurred between genres, and the definition of "role-playing game" is…complicated.
In speaking with VG247 , BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk talked about how the RPG genre continues to blend with other categories of gaming. Unfortunately, he also says the term itself is becoming less relevant as a direct result of this mixing:
"It’s funny because the RPG in the context of the current world is – well, it’s not specifically irrelevant, but it’s becoming less relevant in and of itself. It’s more a function of ‘hey, this game has a great story’. For us having that emotion but also having other great features like combat and persistence of character progression and stuff."
As a frame of reference, BioWare Austin has been cranking on a new MMO called Star Wars: The Old Republic and it's a game that also boasts single-player elements. Oddly enough, Zeschuk says they "work:"
"We were working on [the single-player elements] for a long time. What’s interesting is that it really does work. It was challenging to make it smooth – we went through multiple iterations – there were points when we weren’t sure if we were going to do the voice thing – we were saying well, we’ll see how it goes – but at a point we committed to it and pushed it. Beyond doing it solo there’s also the multiplayer conversations where collectively you’ll be talking to someone. It took a long time."
Oh yes, we can go on and on about how the RPG has changed over the years. And the purists will just keep saying that only D&D actually counts as "role-playing" while Final Fantasy was never an RPG. Then you've got the crowd that wants to turn everything into an RPG; i.e., Zelda . Everyone has their own definition these days and it's becoming harder and harder to point to something and say, "Yep, that's a role-playing game."