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By otakuman5000 On 16 Feb, 2011 At 10:40 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured | With 2 Comments

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Role-playing games, or RPGs, are games that have us, the players, take on a particular part of a story and it’s events. Most of the time, many of us want to become the hero that saves a world from it’s dark possible future. And yet, at the same time, there are some of us who would guise ourselves into a form who’s goal is to see a world’s destruction. No matter the type of persona we take, the RPG allows us to immerse ourselves within a fictional world that can change from the consequences of our own actions. The way RPGs are played and experienced however, is something that is constantly changing within the field of video games.

Phantasy Star 2

In the 8-bit days, RPGs were games that tried to give players a griping enough story to keep them coming back for many hours. While not advanced as more current RPGs, the places and characters within the game had to be dynamic enough for players to either related to or take some interest in what events unfolded. This is the main foundation with any RPG, to have the player immersed within a place that has enough places and characters to interact with, giving the illusion of being within another world outside of our own. Without this total immersion, a player can not take on a role within the world the game sets up, and thus the entire experience is a failure. More recently, developers of RPGs have adopted different methods of finding ways to enhance the way players become immersed within their games. This would include aspects of visuals, music, character relationships, and player relationships to help build upon the aspect of being a part of another world.

Mass Effect 1 Gameplay

The importance of visuals in an RPG are as simple as one might believe. If a person can’t clearly accept what they see in front of them as part of some aspect of a reality, fictional or otherwise, how can they be truly immersed within that reality? If a player is suppose to be looking at an apple, how can they accept that it is an apple if what they are looking at does not actually look like an apple? Or a weapon? Or a person or creature? What players, and ultimately all people, notice first is what they see on screen at any given moment. More current games have adopted the use of three dimensional space and modeling to give more life-like appearances to objects within a game’s realm. The more closer something is made to look as if it is actually real, the more a player can accept that is part of the world around them and can be intrigued to explore other aspects of that world.

Final Fantasy X

The second characteristic that a player will notice is sound. Companies like Square Enix and Atlus Games, makers of both Final Fantasy and Persona, are known for creating musical scores that help enhance the emotions of what is happening to characters during their games. Usually, a main score will be composed, followed by other scores for different times and events, so that a recurring and recognizable theme can be heard throughout the RPG. This can help set up the mood or emotions to be felt about a particular place or person that is presented to players, allowing them to associate that place or person with the world they come from and accept their existence. Now these days, more and more RPGs are turning to musical pieces to give them their own individualities. This can let the music show how unique an RPG world is, and what sets it apart from other places a player might know of from past experiences.

Persona 3

Story is what really separates RPGs apart from other genres in video games. The relationships characters have with one another and the actions they take are what players really pay attention to when playing an RPG. This is mainly because in an RPG, a player can affect other characters, themselves, and even the world with the actions they take during the course of the game. Fable, Mass Effect, and Fallout are all contemporary games that are prime examples of the amount of consequences a player’s actions may have on the world around them. However, not many earlier RPGs allowed a player a large amount of customization of the world they were in, this was mostly due to the hardware limitations of earlier times. The ability to have the option of changing something about the world a player is within only further expands upon the immersion factor. This can help a player feel that they are in control of how a story plays out, and not necessarily tied down to a linear chain of events that transpire as they play. The benefits of this can come in the form of alternate endings, different series of events leading to an ending, or even an entirely new beginning.

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of Stary Skies

Yet, does the immersion of an RPG really need to stop when a player turns off the game? Can the world of an RPG possibly extend beyond the forth wall and keep players tied to the alternate world of a game? More and more these days, RPGs are trying to bring their worlds closer to the players by allowing various multiplayer features that add to the fun factor of being immersed within their worlds. For an RPG, why does a game have to stop when you finish the main story, or when you get stuck at a very hard spot that requires hours of grinding? Why not bring in a friend to help you out? Or maybe two, or three even to join in on the action? This helps make players feel that they are not alone in experiencing the world an RPG has to offer, that there are other players out there willing to share in being part of the experience. Although a huge part of MMOs, traditional RPGs are fairly new to having more then one player as part of the experience they have to offer. Games like  Dragon Quest IX and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles allow players to get the full single player experience, and get even more out of the game playing with friends, before and after they have gone through the game solo. Whether it’s completing a side quest or continuing the main story, everything is always better when hanging out with a few buddies in a strange world.

The Role Playing Game genre is something that has come a long way throughout the years in gaming. We as players, and as people, are always looking for new ways to experience a story and feel what it is like to be part of a new place we‘ve never heard of. An RPG can satisfy our need to want to escape from our current reality and explore places and characters we have never come into contact with before. New features, modes, and stories that are developed and implemented will help players enjoy the experience of playing an RPG style of game. And with time, RPGs will evolve more and more sophisticated to fully immerse us within the stories of the worlds they tell.