Role Control

As a fan of role-playing video games, I feel I should mention that most of them really don’t feature true role-playing, in the sense of really getting into a character’s head. Do you really play the role of Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII any more than you do that of Mario in Super Mario Bros.?

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You don’t have a whole lot of choices beyond choosing whether to fight or cast a spell, and character-building moments are usually not controllable. This in turn makes me think of the issue of character design. Dragon Quest IX, for instance, lets you name and design your hero, but the story is the same regardless.

It’s an illusion, in a sense, as you don’t have a whole lot of control beyond that. A lot of the time, it seems like heroes you create don’t have much of a personality, and I’d kind of rather have one defined by the game itself. Would Final Fantasy VI have been as interesting if its main protagonist had been user-defined, rather than featuring a well-defined character like Terra Branford?

I find The Sims Medieval to be an interesting game in terms of character definition. It isn’t considered a pure role-playing game, but rather a combination of simulation and role-playing. You can create your own heroes, but in addition to name and appearance, you can also give them personality traits. As such, even though the quests are pretty much already defined by the game, how your character reacts to situations depends on the traits you gave them. That’s something I might like to see transferred into more traditional RPGs, as it makes a user-created hero less of a cypher.

This entry was posted in Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Sims, Video Games and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Role Control

  1. Planescape: Torment, being a PC RPG derived from the D&D Planescape setting, has a lot more character building moments than JRPGs and such (your decisions influence what factions you can ally with, what people will join your party, dialogue choices allow you to lie and manipulate people etc.) I still consider table-topping and even more so, text-based nearly shared story-writing RPs, to be my favorite way to get into a character’s head but that discounts video games entirely. Still, I’m a fan of all RPGs in video game format, from dungeon slash fests to JRPGs to more D&D-esque setups. I like the idea of being able to select personality traits in a video game and how that changes the reaction to situations, agreed that would definitely be a nice addition to the traditional video game RPG formula.

  2. Pingback: Learning to Dungeon Crawl | VoVatia

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