I think the "Game" part of RPG is what hangs a lot of people up. How "game like" does an RPG need to be? Must it have rules? if so, how well defined? Must it have victory conditions? if so, in what context?
One thing I said in the "unpopular opinion" thread but am not sure, on reflection, I agree with, is that "solo RPGs are not RPGs." I said that because I sort of assume that the "role-playing" part requires input from someone else (another player, GM, whatever). Otherwise, I figured, it was just story telling, which is not quite the same thing. I am not sure how I feel about it, even as I write this. Why should "role playing" require another person. You can still make your "game" choice "in character" while alone.
I don't think I can agree that the player is the avatar in a LARP. Even if the player is portraying a version of themselves in a LARP, it's going to be a fictionalized self interacting with a fictional world. And to my knowledge, most LARPs don't even work like that — most LARPs have the players still playing as player characters.
You seem to be saying that in a LARP, the player is acting as both the player and the player character. I disagree: I think that the player character still exists independently in the imagination, and the player is acting as both the player and the physical representation of the character (analogous to a minifig!).
But it's moot either way; my original definition already includes LARPs and storygames.
This is most of why I'm willing to consider whether the author/publisher think they've made a TRPG. The option to play something intended as a TRPG in a way that arguably isn't TRPG play doesn't make it not a TRPG. The option to play something not intended as a TRPG in a way that at least looks like TRPG play doesn't make it a TRPG.
Yes. We can play cribbage as an RPG, if we wanted - some cribbage boards are laid out in a way suggestive of a racetrack, so we could play it as jockeys in a great horse race. We can use the card play as a racing resolution mechanic, and assign narrative to play choices or results...
But there's nothing inherent in the game that leads to taking on a role.
Here's the problem with that. If you use a cribbage board to play a horserace RPG, you're not playing cribbage, you're playing a cribbage-adjacent RPG that you've invented.
It's the old "Monopoly insurance fraud" chestnut. What makes Monopoly "not an RPG" isn't the fact that there's no provision for pretending to be a mustache-twirling evil business tycoon as you play; it's the fact that there's no provision for burning down the Boardwalk Hotel and collecting the insurance money. If you start making up things that the rules don't cover — trying to add tactical infinity to Monopoly — you're not playing Monopoly anymore, you're playing a Monopoly-adjacent RPG that you've invented.
Pretending to be a general while you play chess isn't roleplaying (in the strict RPG sense of the word), it's just playing pretend while also playing chess. (And whether the pretend is private and internal — even allowing it to influence what moves you decide to make — or outward and performative doesn't enter into it. It isn't relevant.)
Well, yeah. That's the point. I already noted - there's nothing in cribbage itself that leads to taking on roles. So, no problem.
Note, by the way, in my example I do not change or add any rules to cribbage. The rules of play are exactly the same - I merely suggest informing play choices with a persona, and assigning narratives. Success criteria for play remain unchanged.
The latter, of necessity. When talking about RPGs, we can a priori exclude contextually inappropriate definitions of roleplaying — the CRPG sense or the pop-psych therapy sense or the adult bedroom sense or any other everyday use of the word — and limit ourselves to just the contextually appropriate (what I termed the "strict RPG sense" above).
Roleplaying in that sense is whatever we do when we control an avatar in an RPG, i.e. a game that meets the criteria of a roleplaying game (that thing this thread is about defining). My contention is that only two qualities separate an RPG from other games, fictional avatars and tactical infinity (both of which happen to entail fictional positioning).
Tautological? Maybe. Avoidable? No; not without some indefensible gatekeeping, at any rate.