Defining TTRPGs and the the International Roguelike Development Conference's "Berlin Interpretation"

dragoner

KosmicRPG.com
The advantage is that there are so many more videogamers and designers out there. Its ok to have sub-genres cause folks naturally gravitate to their interests. Nobody thinks all video games are Super Mario Brothers quite like folks think all TTRPG are D&D.
Though at the same time, if you were in Russia, or the Czech Republic, you can say "DnD" and people will know what you are talking about, so there is an upside to that distinction. Esp for someone like me, when half my communication is with non-English speakers.
 

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Yora

Legend
I think any attempt to identify the distinguishing traits of what is an RPG and what is not would have to start with looking at the edge cases and getting a general consensus on which ones we think are definitely RPGs, and which ones are not. It's only in the remaining area between them that any traits can be identified that add to a meaningful distinction.

So the first question would be: What looks like an RPG and might be mistaken for an RPG, but really is not at a closer look?
Any examples?
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
So the first question would be: What looks like an RPG and might be mistaken for an RPG, but really is not at a closer look?
Any examples?
I think it would be more productive to talk about traits a TTRPG contains first. Then, apply it to games individually for how much or little they contain of those traits. Starting with what is mistaken as an RPG is going to get entire works tossed out for not being true enough. Eventually, you'll get to only D&D is an RPG instead of D&D is a type, maybe even the archetype, of TTRPGs.
 

Yora

Legend
That sounds like you want to have a definition that is as wide as possible, to include anything that could be regarded as an RPG.
Then my question is, what useful information could we possibly gain from this?
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
That sounds like you want to have a definition that is as wide as possible, to include anything that could be regarded as an RPG.
Then my question is, what useful information could we possibly gain from this?
Well, like videogames you can start to group games in genres which makes it easier to discuss them and get them notoriety. It's also inclusive, which Ill be honest, the community isnt always great about.
 

Yora

Legend
I am being contradictory here, but again: Do we even have any products that people are ignoring because they are not defined as RPGs, but might be intersted in as RPG fans?
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I am being contradictory here, but again: Do we even have any products that people are ignoring because they are not defined as RPGs, but might be interested in as RPG fans?
I've seen games like Fiasco called collective storytelling, but not actual RPGs. I've seen this aimed at games like Powered by the Apocalypse as well. These games are growing in popularity, but can barely hit the radar in many discussions.

Often, CRPGs are written off as not being RPGs because they dont provide infinite possibilities without a human GM. Also, many have you take on the role of an existing character, and many feel it isnt roleplaying unless you make a character from whole cloth.

Some board games have an RPG element to them, but lean heavily on mechanics. Once again, too limiting for some folks to be considered an RPG.

I think all of these are RPGs and worth discussing. There are shorthands for discussing these already, but it would be nice to have genre conventions instead of just abbreviated titles to differentiate them.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
This right here gives me a headache already.

Yes, but it is the basis of a useful genre definition. Get yourself a big list of genre elements and tropes. If a thing under consideration has enough of the tropes, it belongs in the genre, if it basically lacks the tropes, it does not. There'll be stuff in the middle ground, of which you are unsure if it qualifies. Get used to the idea that that's okay.

Trying to create clear, narrow lines that divide between In and Out seems to usually turns out to be an exercise in gatekeeping than an exercise in talking about the genre.
 
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