Role-playing video game
A role-playing video game is a role-playing game interpreted in a video game. RPGs place strong emphasis on character development and character-based combat with the power of a character being represented in numerical stats that are gradually increased throughout the game. Such games are usually story-driven and predominately feature a fantasy theme, although other themes like science fiction and horror have become commonplace.
When I was around 5 or 6-years-old, some neighborhood kids showed my family a bunch of heavily-used Dungeons & Dragons modules. I couldn't read very well, so I just looked at all the artwork and imagined what they were about. We would also play D&D with highly-improvised rules using our toys as characters. This, along with seeing various fantasy and science fiction movies, really helped cement my love for interactive fiction. So, when I started seeing role-playing video games in the late 1980s, I naturally gravitated toward them. The first RPGs I remember playing were on the NES and included Ultima: Exodus, Dragon Warrior, and Final Fantasy, all of which I loved, but my interest in the genre peaked in the mid-1990s, particularly because of Final Fantasy VI, Secret of Mana, and Chrono Trigger.
Traditional role-playing games evolved from military combat games, but with heavier emphasis placed on individual character development. Shortly after the release of Dungeons & Dragons in 1974, college students began translating the combat aspects of the game and fantasy theme to minicomputers at their universities. The first RPG video games were made on systems like the PDP-10 and PLATO in the mid-1970s. As home computers became popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, these games were ported or reworked for the Apple II, Commodore 64, and Atari 8-bit line. Video game consoles began seeing RPGs shortly thereafter, and the genre began to expand rapidly including many different themes, settings, and rule-systems.
In the pre-Internet days, RPGs from different regions had a specific feel to them, often being influenced heavily on the earliest RPGs seen in each region and growing to fit the demands of the culture. The main regions include the USA, Japan, the UK, Germany, and France. Early RPGs from the USA usually feature more strategic turn-based combat, while Japanese RPGs feature action combat and rely more heavily on graphics. However, as games became globally available, these regional differences began to become homogenized.
Differences From Traditional Role-Playing Games
In traditional pen-and-paper RPGs, the game's referee is expected to take the players through a story while players are expected to take on their character's role in a way similar to an actor playing the role of character in the story. When RPGs were first translated to computers, the game designers imported the rules for combat, but the computers were not powerful enough to handle the acting or story telling aspects of RPGs. As computer hardware became more powerful, the game began to include more story telling and dialogue, and even requiring the player to make choices, but these choices rarely led to significant changes in the story. Even to this day, with much more powerful computers, RPGs rarely require players to take on a role and actively participate in the story. Another major difference between traditional and video game RPGs is human interaction. Traditional RPGs are social events with people gathering together face-to-face and talking to one another, but video game RPGs are generally solitary games where the player doesn't interact with anyone. Even in multiplayer RPG video games, the player rarely interacts with other people beyond voice-only communication.
This is a list of RPG video games that are important to me. For all games in this genre, see the RPG category.