RPG Analysis

Posted on Jan 15th 2013 at 12:04:56 PM by (Fleach)
Posted under RPG, Collecting, Gaming, Value

As someone new to the hobby of video game collecting the issue of retail value versus perceived value regularly comes to mind. Generally this is not a problem as many retro games can be purchased for reasonably low prices. Simulation, sports, and platforming titles are excellent examples of games that may be acquired for a few dollars with the intent to fill those collection holes fairly easily. There are, however, certain games that command excess amounts of money years after their release. These would include games of the Role Playing genre.

A search on Ebay will yield results displaying complete copies of early entires in the Final Fantasy series with three figure price tags. A minimum wage pay cheque is often insufficient to pay for a complete in box EarthBound. Even games of these genres from less popular consoles command relatively high prices. In many cases these Role Playing games have appreciated in value.

The origins of Role Playing games can be traced back to table top board games before they made the digital jump to the computer with games such as Ultima. These were often rudimentary dungeon crawlers which allowed players to battle monsters and upgrade their character's attributes. Eventually Japanese game developers took the RPG to new heights with innovative games like Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior in North America) and Final Fantasy. These games were hugely popular in Japan, but only received a lukewarm reception in the west. This, of course, all changed with Final Fantasy VII's arrival in North America. With fewer games available in North America they would eventually increase in rarity. Despite not being widely popular it is difficult to consider RPGs to be rare; they can be found if one is willing to pay the price.

This is the point at which perceived value becomes a deciding factor in the acquisition of a Role Playing game. Perceived value is often related to a person's willingness to accept a retail price, but more importantly it is the impact the game has on the player. Simply put, RPGs offer great bang for your buck.

A Role Playing game can be compared to a novel, in fact it is very much an interactive story. By following a narrative structure RPGs draw the players in and do not let go until the very end. The games build up to an exciting climax before leading into the resolution of story enabling the player to develop a strong desire to reach the conclusion because of an investment he or she has in the story and its characters. Moreover a Role Playing game will address the themes of the unbreakable bonds of friendship, self identity, or the dangers of greed. These timeless topics allow the player to grow alongside the games antagonist and company. Just like a great book, RPGs engage the player who will become emotionally invested in the story.

Though some Role Playing games can be considered better than others, after witnessing the characters successes and failures a unique bond forms between the player and the game. Spending over forty hours with a story is how one truly gets to learn about its world and mythology and come to accept the games seemingly high price tag.

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What was your first RPG, or the first one you became emotionally invested in?
My first RPG was Final Fantasy VII. I bought it when I was probably 12 but couldn't get into it. FF X was the game that actually got me hooked, I love everything about the game. As for VII, I did go back to it after X and really enjoyed it too.
Standing Stones on C64 was technically my first RPG, and the original Dragon Warrior was the first I finished. 

I'm so glad I picked up most of the RPGs in our collection when they were about the cheapest possible to acquire; buying some of them now would just simply be way out of budget.  Sometimes I pick up second copies when I can find them cheap just to have loaner copies. Smiley
My first RPG was Ultima V, but I was too young to understand it. I didn't really start to be interested in RPGs until I received The Legend of Zelda for the NES. (Also the first RPG I completed). RPGs remain one of my favorite genres.
Zelda's another great series that leaves a lasting impression. Those games do a fantastic job of telling a deep and interesting story.
I've got lots of great RPG memories both classic and new, and I'm glad I've been around to pick up a lot of them when they are affordable.

It's funny that Addicted brings up LoZ. That one has gone round and round with the category argument, and I put it in the adventure camp instead of RPG. Zelda II is probably the only of the series that I can think of off hand that I would classify as RPG.
@Duke.Togo: That's one of the downsides of being a young'un... Those games that are oldies, but goldies don't come cheap.

I thought about LoZ while I was writing this and came to the conclusion that I'm not 100% accepting of the term "RPG." In my opinion they're all various takes on the adventure genre. I'd be more comfortable calling an FF game something like a "stat-based adventure game" or "narrative adventure game." Typical adventure games would get their name from the story style for example "fantasy adventure" (ie Zelda).
Man, I remember the RPG pricing craze during the late PSX era (1998-99).  Even questionable RPG games such as Robotrek and 7th Saga commanded huge price tags.  Personally the perceived value of RPGs has less to do with the story and more to do with the promised amount of game time.  I remember senselessly squirreling away a ton of RPG games back in the late '90s, almost as if I was expecting a game drought (or a massive amount of free time).
Man, I remember the RPG pricing craze during the late PSX era (1998-99).  Even questionable RPG games such as Robotrek and 7th Saga commanded huge price tags.  Personally I believe the perceived value of RPGs has less to do with the story and more to do with the promised amount of game time.  I remember senselessly squirreling away a ton of RPG games back in the late '90s, almost as if I was expecting a game drought (or a massive amount of free time).

I like that you mentioned that many RPGs are basically interactive stories.  True, one could point out that there are many games that are not RPGs that share this trait, but I think RPGs are like this more often that not.  I still remember my old Everquest guild master chastising a friend and I for "watching games" (we were talking about FFX).
@bombatomba: That pricing craze is still going on to some extent here in Canada. Just last week I saw a copy of FF VII for $100 at a local game store. That inspired me to write this because someone will see that game and say, "Final Fantasy is awesome! I gotta have this!" despite the $100 price sticker. It'll take a while, but the will sell.

I agree that the time you put into a game adds to its perceived value, but even shorter games can leave you completely satisfied. The Last Story (25 hours), or even Journey which technically wasn't an RPG (2 hours) had a significant impact on me and left a lasting impression. I'm aware of the dollars per hour argument, but it's not a deal breaker for me.
Even the RPGs I don't particularly care for just seem awesome in my collection. There is something about RPGs that make them seem more precious to me, even if its a game I'm not into. An aura of desirability or something.

The first one to really suck me into the world and characters was Final Fantasy IX. I've played through it several times now and it always sticks with me. After that I started eating up any other RPGs I could get my hands on. There was a lull for a few years where I didn't really play much in the RPG realm. For whatever reason I popped in Persona 3 and was sucked back in. Persona 4 just solidified it though.

Great article Fleach!!
I began playing D&D with friends around the age of 12 (a few of us played during boyscout campouts) and it really had a lasting impression on me.  My first RPG on the home console was Dragon Warrior, which I bought at it's launch.  I believe I had read a review of it or something and basically determined that it was going to be a lot like D&D.  I remember spending hours on that game, grinding excessively, which I never minded and always felt/still feel that it is an important part of the game.  I'm not a big fan of RPGs that are overly linear, but that's just me.

To get back on topic, I think that it's odd that RPGs are usually so highly priced and valued.  If you think about it, it's a lot like a movie in that you typically have the same experience each time you play/watch it and there is not much (if any) variation.  Once you beat a game, doesn't it somewhat tarnish the replay value? I think that the higher price of RPGs is typically based nostalgia and the typical multiple hour engrossing experience they provide or once provided. Also, I am sure that several of you have encountered the "well, it's priced triple because it has 3 discs" mentality from some sellers.  This always makes me chuckle.

Believe me, I am not attacking RPGs, I love them and have several of the ones I played when I was younger and good ones that I have been recommended in my collection.  Now that I am older and have kids, I just don't have the opportunity to put that much time into a game.  It sucks, but I'm not disappointed in the trade off. Smiley
@singlebanana: I used to say the same thing, but recently I've found myself putting 20+ hours into games (I've played at least that in Dead Island so far, and around 25 with Just Cause 2).  The secret for me is to just sacrifice sleep for fun (which as a father you know means three to four hours as oppossed to five to six).  Of course my wife also works twelve hour midnight shifts on the weekends...
Ah, the dilemma of to game or to sleep.

In relation to Singlebanana's comment: I try to squeeze every last drop of awesomeness out of my RPGs because I know I probably won't replay them.

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Role Playing games are my favourite genre of the gaming library. I feel it is appropriate to take a look at the games that have touched me in my time as a gamer and collector and share them with the community. Feel free to discuss your thoughts, ideas, and challenge my opinions. The conversation is welcomed.
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