A role playing game (RPG) is a broad type of game in which a player takes control of a fictional character, or some form of in game representation such as an avatar. The play is governed by a set of rules designed to help interpret the actions of the players and their avatars in the game world.
Traditionally RPG games have taken place on a table top with paper and pencils. In these types of game one player is assigned a role similar to both a storyteller and referee. This player is then usually referred to as gamemaster, or GM for short. It is the GM’s job to help the players by telling the story of the session and interpreting and applying the rules. An example of this type of game is the well known Dungeons and Dragons.
In more modern times RPG’s tend to be presented as online games played by using either a personal computer (PC) or games console. Here the “rules” are all interpreted by the computer that is acting as a server for the game world, rather than by one player acting impartially. This means that all players can take an active part in the telling of the story and have their own personal avatar be active in the game.
The ability to these types of games to cater for hundreds or sometimes millions of users has given rise to the term MMO-RPG’s. MMO is an acronym for any Massively Multiplayer Online game.
RPG’s have come a long way from the days when games such as Dungeons and Dragons dominated the hobby market. These days the games that dominate the marketplace have titles such as Warcraft and Runescape.
Warcraft is reputedly the largest MMORPG with around 12 million active subscribers and over 60% of the MMORPG subscription market. Game play in Warcraft consists of various in game challenges such as wandering monsters, but also has many in game quests to be completed. Once a character reaches maximum level interest is maintained by raiding as part of a large team. Raids are organised attacks against very powerful non-player characters that can only be defeated by a large team acting together. The loot recovered from these end game bosses is the best in the game and it is this aspect that keeps players interested long term.
Another successful online MMORPG is Runescape by Jagex. Runescape has over ten million active subscriber accounts and is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest subscription free MMO RPG game. Runescape has a non-linear approach to game play. While the game offers hundreds of quests and a few dozen mini-games it is entirely the choice of the player as to how they level up and progress in the game. Levelling the 24 in game skills alone can take up a majority of a player’s time, let alone completing an estimated 5-25,000 hours of actual game play!
There are also literally thousands of smaller RPG games available as flash downloads that play in a browser. Most of these games are free to play and take only a few seconds to download.
Whatever your choice, there is an RPG game for you.