Pam's Blog

Posted on Nov 12th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (Pam)
Posted under video, rpg

This video was inspired by the recent Playcast conversation about The Legend of Zelda and whether or not it should be classified as an RPG. While I don't think it should, it does have some elements common to RPGs. Here I take a look at the genre's roots in tabletop games and examine how video games let us develop characters in both mechanical and narrative ways. I also compare western and Japanese RPGs in how they tend to favor one type of character development over the other.

Check out the video and let me know how you define an RPG!

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I would like to applaud you for including a hyphen in "role-playing" in your video.  This makes me very happy.

I would also like to applaud how you tackle this subject, deftly dodging any toe-stepping, with the exception of the "Legend of Zelda" issue.  Like you, I don't believe that LoZ is an RPG, rather a Action-Adventure game, but there is a contingent on The Internets that believes otherwise.  I wonder if they will show themselves. *glances at Internet*

Personally, I tend to call a game an RPG when a few key elements are met, primarily that of characterization, stat development (through some kind of accumulated experience-related system primarily earned from combat), exploration, and narrative structure (either provided by the game or made up by the player). 

I like your breakdown of mechanical and narrative, as I feel it tends to group certain games together from both JRPGs and CRPGs.  Thanks for another video.
The Legend of Zelda retains a couple of RPG-like elements, but is definitely a Action-Adventure game at heart.
Great video, Pam!  I've never really thought this much about what constitutes the primary traits of RPG's, though I would say bombatomba's definition is more or less the unwritten general template I have probably considered to be relatively definitive.  If you consider story-building to be essential to the RPG formula, the tons of JRPG games go from RPG status to being lengthy, linear story-driven turn based battle games.  It's a bit jarring to think in those terms, so I'm not sure it's right to wholesale discount the more linear games, but certainly it gives one pause to think of something like FF7 in different terms like that.  Very interesting perspective.
@bombatomba: So far I haven't had too many people argue that LoZ is an RPG.

@Link41: I agree

@MetalFRO: Thanks! I don't have a better term for games like FF7 though I feel that the lack of character development makes it quite different than the more traditional D&D based games.
I too never have seen Zelda as RPG, anytime recently that is. When I first got into games more than just playing them, actually getting into what genres there were and stuff, I did read sources and people who said it was an RPG. But after actually going and playing RPG's and going back to play any of the Zelda's revealed to me that it wasn't really an RPG like I had read. It had no leveling system, that was the first issue I had. And it still is the main issue. A true RPG needs leveling, of any kind. Whether through experience points that automatically level up such as Diablo to name one game,or the game using experience points and letting you choose when to level up and which skills to purchase (such as BioWare games like KOTOR),or accumulation money or prizes that will be used to purchase the next level or further skills (like Demon Souls and Dark Souls, souls are the money used to purchase the next level). Zelda doesn't do any of that and that is the cornerstone of RPG's to me. All the systems I said all work good in the games they are in, there isn't one right way to do the leveling, but when it isn't there at all then that is not an RPG.
@RobotWillie:I must add, Zelda II does have a leveling system. But one game out of a dozen or more doesn't make that franchise RPG. I grew up with Ocarina of Time  and went back and played the older ones later. So one out of many does not make a whole. And Hyrule Warriors doesn't count to me either as a true Zelda game.
@RobotWillie: And I wrote all the before I watched the video, and you pretty much show the examples and styles I said.

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