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What is a RPG these days?

I have been reading reviews about Dishonored. I like how the game looks but I am not into First Person view point games. Yet, I adored Fallout 3/Fallout New Vegas. It seems that in the right enviorment I can enjoy them. When I think First Person I think First Person Shooter. That is not a gaming style I enjoy. Dishonored, however, is billed as a First Person Role Play Game and my intial reaction was "I don't roleplay, how silly."

Then, I thought about how hypritical that sounded. "EVE Online is a massive multiplayer online game" according to its own website. I play the hell out of Eve. Yet, I play a game that is called a roleplay game without feeling that I roleplay at all. Was I right or wrong or just suffering from a matter of my opinion?

To define role play in games I'll use wikipedia and the dictionary.

role–play verb \ˈrōl-ˌplā, -ˈplā\
1: to act out the role of
2 : to represent in action

After reading the definition I did not feel that it fit. Eve is a game. I'm not stepping away from that. But is it a role play game? Most MMO's start you off and you decide on a class. Your class is who you are. No matter how well you play or how bad ass you are you are always defined and held within that class.

Eve hands you a race and sets you lose in space. You can immedatly decide that you dislike your races options and jump ship for new and exciting other stuff.

pre·tend   /prɪˈtɛnd/ Show Spelled[pri-tend] verb (used with object)
1. to cause or attempt to cause (what is not so) to seem so: to pretend illness; to pretend that nothing is wrong.
2. to appear falsely, as to deceive; feign: to pretend to go to sleep.
3. to make believe: The children pretended to be cowboys.
4. to presume; venture: I can't pretend to say what went wrong.
5. to allege or profess, especially insincerely or falsely: He pretended to have no knowledge of her whereabouts.

I am loosely classified as a pirate but I have often pointed out that I make a poor pirate. I may make an excellent pirate queen (my random self labling I can not escape so I might as well embrace), but I make a poor pirate over all simply because I am not fully and only vested in bring a pirate. I will happily take on other roles. The game does not restrict me to piracy nor do I self restrict to piracy.

Eve is more of a god game for me. I world build, using multiple charaters to complete predetermened tasks that I have set for myself to engage and amuse myself. None of my inner view of the game feels particularly roleplayish to me.

I will point to Eve University here. They are not a role play corporation. They are not a group that pretend to be teachers and pretend to be students. They are doing these actions. The teachers have taken on the role of instructors. The students have taken on the role of students. The personnel staff have taken on the role of management. They are not actors and actresses pretending to create a university environment.

What is a role?

role   /roʊl/ Show Spelled[rohl] noun
1. a part or character played by an actor or actress.
2. proper or customary function: the teacher's role in society.
3. Sociology . the rights, obligations, and expected behavior patterns associated with a particular social status.

Within the game some people are doing not pretending. Some are pretending as well. But does the existence of role play within a game mean that the game itself is a role play game? Eve has created a society of people that live and do things within a game. Is my CEO pretending to by my CEO or is he accepting the role of running the corporation?

Am I pretending to be Minmatar? While "Winmatar" may be a used phrase, is it role play or is it rooting for the home team? When someone uses, "We" and "Us" in regards to their favorite sports teams are they role playing or stepping into the social sphere of their chosen organization?

Am I actually Minmatar (with ni the game). I'd say no. The Minmatar have a history. I've never taken the time to read it because I don't care. Being Minmatar does not trap my character into one and only one track in the game.

Maybe it is the avatar? Or maybe not. The avatar is something that I rarely see unless I want to take pictures from the captains quarters. Yet, I do not view myself as a hurricane.

The hurricane is my ship that I control.

That is not to say that people can not role play in the game. They do. But, it is a choice that they make and not a restriction the game places on them. Conversely, a game that does force role play only does it in a mechanical sense. The players may not vest themselves into a behavior of role play but instead play the character's role while they move through social interactions in their normal manners.

In a roleplay game such as Diablo 3 I do not have issue with piloting my avatar through the activities inside of the game. I do not bring any personal feel into that situation. I am not that character in the game. I'd not make those decisions. I'd not have that person as a friend or that one as an enemy. I can not see myself in that persons shoes. I'm a voyeur with some minor manipulation of the environment.

While roleplay can and does happen in Eve, for me it is not something I think about. I am a 'what you see is what you get' type of person in game and out. I have not assumed the mantle of something else beyond myself. I do not connect Eve with roleplay by definition because Eve does not fore the player into a preconceived role to play. A player can chose to make that decision but it is a choice option.

Sure, I could counter argue that Eve still imposes restrictions on me. But, then I could say that life does the same thing. I don't get everything I want every day just because the 'world is real' and 'Eve is a game'. I'm stepping past that because it is an argumentative point for the sake of being argumentative. I could also say that any attempt at silliness or 'yarring' is roleplay and attach large exclamation points to it. I also sometimes dance and sing in my house. I do both terribly. One could call me a roleplayer at that time but I would consider that moments of levity and play. Roleplay, in which someone enters into a charater is a bit more intense then a brief ballroom spin about the kitchen or a yarr in chat.

Is the role-play tag on the MMO lable an artifact? Something added on from habit because of a prexisting understanding of the definition? In a day and age when Call of Duty is called a role play game, where does Eve fall?


  1. " Most MMO's start you off and you decide on a class. Your class is who you are. No matter how well you play or how bad ass you are you are always defined and held within that class."

    Ultima Online didn't have that class system, and was the first mainstream MMO. Eve Online follows in more of the older UO tradition, while 99% of the MMO's created today follow the EQ/WoW tradition.

    "Is the role-play tag on the MMO lable an artifact? Something added on from habit because of a prexisting understanding of the definition?"

    Yes. Basically roleplaying game has two meanings, one is that you communicate "in-character" and the other is that the mechanics of the game are largely based on progressively changing attributes of a limited number of characters under your control. The unfortunate thing about these definitions is that games possess them in mixed quantities, many qualifying under both definitions. EVE online is termed an MMORPG because it certainly qualifies as one under the latter definition of an RPG. This artifact comes from the pre-internet time, (pre-internet being commonly used time). At that time only the second definition was realistically possible in a computer game, so it was used as such for literally thousands of titles.

  2. Interesting point of view and i guess there is not real answer (well maybe 42 but who knows). As soon as you log in you are playing as sugar kyle (or which ever alt you use). On Coms, your friends may call your real name, but for other players you are that pod pilot.
    If we meet tomorrow and have a drink together it would be you and me as RL persons who met in a game where we play immortal pilots.
    Every time I log in to the game (and undock if I was docked in the first place) I know I could get killed. Thankfully thats just a part of the play and in RL i don't have to fear that.

    You could call eve just another MMOG without the RP. If you play a game of chess, you don't RP, it is you who is planing the next move. But as soon as you slip into a role of someone inside a game it is kind of RP. More or less. ;-)

    Anyway, does it matter? As long as you have fun in doing it, who cares what it is called?

    1. It doesn't matter. It never has. But lots of things don't matter. I still get curious.

  3. EVE is not an MMO-RPG, no. It's an MMO-RTS. I've heard the Master of Orion and Homeworld comparos too often to consider it elsewise. ;-)


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