To me, an rpg is simply that: a roleplaying game, whereas we undertake a specific role, and play it out. Now, within gaming genres, rpg has become intrinsically tied to traditional turn-based rpgs, originally lead by pnp -but wasnt pnp just a form of escapism, allowing us to fulfill a role of fantasy? Is rpg only a derivation of these original gaming systems, or is it more? Indeed, even fps games could in many terms be classed as rpgs, as you are merely enacting a role!

I appreciate this site deals mostly with pen and paper rpg, yet the site is called role-playing games: as such the many veterans here must have strong definitions of what an rpg is.

I am very interested in hearing these definitions -in hearing, on an individual basis, what is your answer, so that I may hopefully learn from such and improve/enrich my own understanding of what I class as an rpg.

  • \$\begingroup\$ this looks like it's more suited to the meta site as it's about the definition of RPG for this site rather than actual RPG theory. I've voted to move it over there. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ At the risk of being redundant, I might suggest you ask this on Meta (the meta link at the top). But in general the reason why a lot of stuff goes elsewhere is in the site description: "RPG Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games." \$\endgroup\$
    – Tridus
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Duplicate of this one? \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex P
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ No wax, it's a question specifically about rpg theory, fuelled by the approach this site has to what it classes as rpg. And Tridus I appreciate what you are saying, but at that point shouldn't this site be called "pen and paper role-playing game"? Sure it rolls less off the tongue, but it would certainly be more accurate. I am merely curious what the people on this site, not another site or meta site, think rpg actually is. Lemme state that better in the question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 19:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see why you would think that Alex, but I'm not interested in the difference, perceived or real: I've hopefully edited the question enough to make what I am asking clear. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a question for Meta.RPG.SO. And I think it's been asked before. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 19:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's really nothing about RPG theory in this question. The appropriate place for this question is on the meta site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 19:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I WHOLEHEARTEDLY CONCUR, RUINING THE POINT OF THE STACK EXCHANGE COMMENTS SYSTEM. On a less over-the-top note, we could conceivably have this question on core StackExchange in the form of "what differentiates a role playing game from other games and how do we communicate that to a prospective player", which is not necessarily what this asks, but is worthy of thought and not subject to being more appropriate for meta rather than this. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ possible duplicate of What kind of questions can I ask here? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: What is on topic on Role-playing Games Stack Exchange? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 20:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nein lol! Related yes, but not what I'm looking for: I don't want a forum, nor a discussion. Not interested in what questions can and cannot ask. I want to know what peeps here think defines an RPG. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 20:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ReaperOscuro You appear to be asking this out of concern people may not be able to ask about all topics they should be able to. Are there any actual games or topics you feel people should be able to ask about here but are concerned they wouldn't be able to, or any specific questions that were closed as off topic or migrated when you felt they should have stayed? I ask because such examples would actually give us a real existing restriction to consider. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 21:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ReaperOscuro It's not restricted to PnP RPGs. That's why I linked you to discussions about LARPs and "What questions are allowed?" If you look at the first, you'll see the list includes freeform, online, pbem (etc.), LARP, and more. The restriction is against non-RPG games (board, card, party games, murder mysteries) and CRPGs. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 21:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh wow, I just looked at our Tour and it says "table-top, pencil and paper" all over the damn place, with nary a mention of our broader definition of RPGs. Is that where this question comes from? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2013 at 23:17

1 Answer 1


I think the Wikipedia explanation covers it pretty well:

A role-playing game (RPG and sometimes roleplaying game) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting or through a process of structured decision-making or character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.

There are several forms of RPG. The original form, sometimes called the tabletop RPG, is conducted through discussion, whereas in live action role-playing games (LARP) players physically perform their characters' actions. In both of these forms, an arranger called a game master (GM) usually decides on the rules and setting to be used and acts as referee, while each of the other players plays the role of a single character.

Several varieties of RPG also exist in electronic media, such as multi-player text-based MUDs and their graphics-based successors, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Role-playing games also include single-player offline role-playing video games in which players control a character or team who undertake quests, and may include capabilities that advance using statistical mechanics. These games often share settings and rules with tabletop RPGs, but emphasize character advancement more than collaborative storytelling.

Despite this variety of forms, some game forms such as trading card games and wargames that are related to role-playing games may not be included. Role-playing activity may sometimes be present in such games, but it is not the primary focus. The term is also sometimes used to describe roleplay simulation games and exercises used in teaching, training, and academic research.

Or in short form: any game where the principal focus is on roleplaying is an RPG.

So yeah, a lot of stuff is an RPG. Video games aren't covered here because they have their own SE site already. Board games & card games have their own SE. Anything else is largely fair game.

You don't see a lot of questions about things like LARPs here despite them being on-topic, just by their nature. Each LARP has its own rules & community, and they're so small that they're insular. People just ask each other, rather than asking a wider Internet audience.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer Tridus: at this stage any answer, relevant or not, is greatly appreciated :D Oh and Seven: although not what I was aiming at, that IS a very valid point! I'll address it via another question nay fear. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 14:58

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