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Roleplaying in Video Games (and why I barely do it)

Roleplaying in Video Games (and why I barely do it)


A couple weeks ago, I started playing Outer Worlds, and I found myself immediately pulled in by the incredible setting, intriguing characters,
and impressive writing. After about an hour of playing though, right
when I was faced with the first major choice of the game—that being deciding whether to divert power from the corporation run town or from the small camp set up by deserters, I realized
that despite Outer Worlds having pretty much everything I look for in a roleplaying game,
I wasn’t really roleplaying. I was just gathering information to try to make the
“best” decision. And I find that this happens to me a lot when
playing choice-based video games, especially ones that let players create their own character. What’s interesting is that this differs
drastically from how I approach roleplaying in tabletop rpgs like Dungeons and Dragons. In those games, I create in depth backstories
for my characters so that I can justify why they make certain decisions, I spend arguably
too much time thinking about how the events of any given session might influence them
moving forward, and I try to take myself out of the equation and think of the character
as their own person. I have them do what they would do and not
just what I think will lead to the “best” outcome. With video games, I do none of that. Whether it happens right away or after a few
hours of trying to play as a specific kind of character, I almost always end up falling
into playing as a variation of myself. I make choices based on my own moral code,
I value relationships that reflect the ones in my real life, and while I am often a little
snarkier than I am normally, I talk to people in about the same way as I do every day. Honestly, the biggest difference between me
and the characters I play as in video games is that I would never get into a fight. Playing as yourself isn’t an inherently
bad way to approach a game; imagining how you would go about living in a fictional world
can be a lot of fun. However, from a narrative perspective, it
ends up making the protagonist not really feel like an actual character in the story. In conventional narratives the character who
changes and grows the most is the protagonist, but in these kinds of games, the main character
can so easily disappear into the background. When the protagonist is a reflection of the player, it is harder to bring about change in them because chances are, the player’s understanding of themselves won’t be profoundly
changed by the events of the game. In my experience, A title might challenge how I view certain things, but given that most of my personal development happens outside of games, I am
unlikely to go through my own hero’s journey with every title I play. So, despite there being almost no separation
between the character and myself, playing like this creates a disconnect between the
character and the story because there is a disconnect between me and the story. A lot of games intentionally make their protagonists
blank slates so that it is easier for the player to attach whatever they want to the
playable character, and while I get the logic of this choice and how it may help some players
feel like a part of the story, for me, it gets in the way of roleplaying. I find that it leads me to become passive
as a player; I shut part of my brain off, and go on autopilot. It doesn’t take a lot of extra thought for
me to be me. And by now I’m sure some of you are asking, “Hey, Raz, if you don’t like playing as a version of yourself why do you continuously do it? And yeah, that is a fair question The answer is complicated. Part of it has to do with how easy it is to
fall into a passive mindset when playing games; part of it has to do with me typically binging
through titles and not stopping to reflect on their story until after I’ve finished
it; but the biggest part of it is that if I create a character and establish a distinct
personality and goals, on a first playthrough, I have no idea if what I come up with will
make sense in the context of the overall story. With tabletop rpgs, there is typically someone playing as the game master who is there to adapt
the story to work with the decisions of the players, but, at least right now with today’s
technology, it is impossible for video games to predict every kind of character a player
may want to play as, meaning stories can’t be tailored in a way that responds to the
actions and decisions of any given character. When I think about games where I actually
ended up roleplaying, almost all of them have established playable characters. There is space for the player to ultimately
decide how that character approaches the world, but there are set elements about them that
writers can build around. For example, when I played The Witcher 3 for
the first time, I didn’t make choices as myself; I took measure of the kind of person
I thought Geralt was and then made choices that I thought he would make. I viewed him as someone who has spent his
life being deeply misunderstood, leading to him being cold to those he doesn’t know
and incredibly protective over those who have let him in. My understanding of him dictated the kind
of quests I completed, the people I talked to, and even the places I went. I mostly stuck to the main quest of having
Geralt search for his surrogate daughter Ciri. Given my assumption that he would be protective
over the few people he has in his life, this seemed like the path to follow. As I tracked her travels, I learned of the
adventures she had gone on and the obstacles she had overcome, showing me and in turn,
Geralt, how capable of a person she had grown into. So, despite playing most of the game as an
overprotective father, when the two were finally reunited and she began asking for advice,
while my personal instinct was to be as accommodating as possible, I felt that Geralt would most
likely recognize her strength and push her to be self-sufficient. That he wouldn’t try to protect her from
her own mistakes. My understanding of Geralt grew, and, in turn,
so did he as a character. Him having defined characteristics made it so I couldn’t just have him be a version of me, because Geralt and I are distinctly different from each other. Also, because Geralt is a defined character, it allowed the game’s writers to come up with scenarios that would best
challenge the primary aspects of who he is. Presenting moments that will be most impactful
to a character is harder to do when the player has nearly full control of creating them,
but some titles do try to find a middle ground by giving the playable character one or two
defined traits. This can be hit or miss. Like, with Skyrim, no matter what the protagonist
is the dragonborn which means they are destined to one day battle Alduin. This doesn’t really lead to any interesting
roleplaying and just acts as justification for getting the player to do the main quest. A game that actually pulls this concept off,
and I promise I am as surprised as you are that I am about to compliment it, is Fallout
4. The predefined aspect about the main playable
character is that their child has been taken. For me, this acted as the core of every decision
I made. I needed to find my son. As I learned more about the world and started
hearing rumors about the Institute which is very much presented as a shadowy cabal that
abducts and kills people, I also started to develop pretty strong anti-institute sentiments. However, once the first major plot twist is
revealed—that Shaun has grown up and become the head of the Institute, I was faced with
a really tough and intriguing roleplaying decision. My primary motivation had been to find been
to find Shaun but my secondary motivation had been to fight against the institute. I had to betray one of those two things, changing
the character forever. Even though I personally would have chosen to go against the Institute, I decided to work with them for the sake of my character’s
family. These moments work so well because the writers
created interesting conflicts centered around the character traits that players would likely
latch onto. And, I think this knowledge is part of the
reason that I find myself more willing to roleplay in games with an established protagonist
than games without one: it’s a safer bet that my investment will be rewarded with interesting
character development. This mindset though has kind of led to a self-fulfilling
prophecy of being disappointed with roleplaying in certain titles. I make the assumption that my effort won’t
be rewarded or my arc won’t end up making sense, so I don’t do the work needed to
craft an interesting character, which, to no surprise, causes roleplaying in titles
like The Outer Worlds to fall short. So, I decided to see what would happen if
I fully dedicated to roleplaying as a character I created by starting a new file in The Outer
Worlds. Having played a little bit of the Outer Worlds
already, I had a decent idea of what kind of character would fit well into the world—by
that I mean making someone who is kind of a piece of shit, so I came up with a guy named
Alvric Alina who back on Earth had worked for a mob boss named Tommy Tin Mouth. Alvric had a long career as a bruiser type,
but as he aged, he got a little weaker and a little slower and the law finally caught
up to him. When given the choice between life in prison
or being sent to the colonies, he went with the latter. As I played, I focused on two major aspects
of his backstory: the first being that he spent his entire life as a follower and the
second being that he used to always solve problems with his fists, but can’t now that
he’s older. I tried to give him stats to reflect these
things, but because the game didn’t let me have any leftover skill points, I had to
dump a few into areas that I would have preferred to not have as high. Regardless, I gave him really low strength
and dexterity to show how his age has caught up to him and poor temperament to indicate
that his preferred method of conflict resolution was violence. These two traits ended up working really well
given the story of the game. One of the first things that happens is that
the playable character becomes the captain of a ship. Given Alvric’s personality and experience with
doing jobs on his own, he started off not wanting to work with others, but as he realized
that his skillset of beating the crap out of people had stopped being viable, it became
imperative to recruit a reliable crew. Alvric’s arc became about learning what
it means to lead and how to rely on others. I tried to do various things to reflect that
character shift. I started off by only using melee, but as
Alvric continued to get destroyed in close combat, I had him switch to mid-range weapons
and eventually long range ones, leaving the heavy lifting to his more youthful companions. Also at first, I would have him ignore the
requests given to him by the crew, but as he witnessed other leaders being callous about
the lives of those who worked for them, I had him start to take more of an interest
in his—still always at a distance, but at least taking them into consideration. I made decisions from the point of view as
someone with few morals who believed they were never meant to lead. This resulted in a lot of missteps for Alvric,
as he tried to not only view a situation from his point of view but also from the point
of view of those flying with him, but over time it led him to become someone who was
proud to be the captain of the Unreliable. One of my favorite things about how I approached
this playthrough happened relatively early on. Due to Alvric having low temperament, his
health didn’t automatically regenerate, which meant the only way reliable way to get
health back was by taking drugs. Outer Worlds has a system where character
can develop Flaws from repeatedly doing things, so he eventually became addicted to Adreno. What I love about this is that a backstory
choice I made led to me approaching combat in an inefficient way which caused him to
develop an in-game flaw. In turn, him developing the flaw is part of
the reason I had him change how he approached combat. His character grew through gameplay instead
of character interactions, which made everything feel connected. Also, due to his new flaw, I decided to have
him buy as much Adreno as possible every time he came across a vendor, even going as far
as selling items to afford more, and he would pursue any side quest involving medications. On top of all that I did a lot of little things
to stay in character. Like, if a crew member was disrespectful to
Alvric or someone else on the squad, I’d have him send them back to the ship. Or if an encounter seemed too dangerous for
the old man, I’d just have him and his crew run away. Or if I wanted Alvric to do something very
clearly illegal, like rob a Medical Bay to steal all their supplies, I’d have him leave
the ship on his own. I took notes of every choice I made, I wrote
journal entries from Alvric’s point of view, and when I wasn’t playing, I spent time
thinking about how the journey changed him as a character. All of this reflection led to biggest decision I had him make. Because started off as a follower looking for someone
to lead him, he immediately latched onto the man who brought him out of stasis,
Dr. Phineas Welles. But as Alvric took on a leadership role, I started
to feel like he’d be less and less inclined to do the bidding of others, and I eventually
had him abandon the main questline in favor just being the captain of a ship; taking jobs,
making money, and supporting his crew and bad habits. From that point on I just took on sidequests
until I had my fill. And, yeah, it wasn’t perfect. I had to make up a few conversations in my
head, there was no real climactic end to the story, and I ended up missing out on the intended
story, but it made sense for Alvric to follow that path. While I wish my approach would’ve led to
a more climatic ending, I did walk away with an experience I don’t think I’ll forget
any time soon, and I can’t really say that about the various open-world games where I
played as a reflection of myself. I’m not going to say that this kind of approach
is the best way to play a title like The Outer Worlds. The actual act of roleplaying is interesting
to me, but I imagine there are a lot of people that don’t really care about it all that
much. And, I get that. Some people just play games to chill. My time with Outer Worlds was a lot of things,
but relaxing was not one of them. I paid attention to every little thing happening
around Alvric, I never did anything that didn’t have a clear purpose, and I spent hours outside
of the game trying to get into the head of someone that I made up. It was both rewarding and exhausting, and
it is not something I plan to do with every single open-world rpg I play. In all honesty, focusing so much on roleplaying
can lead to railroading certain quest lines. Playing as Alvric did pull me into the story
in a way no video game had before, but it also led to me not exploring the vast landscapes
of each planet or engaging with a majority of the content in the game. There is a give and take to every approach,
and in the future, deciding whether I will play as a reflection of myself in order to
experience more content or as an original character so that I can dive deep into roleplaying,
will depend on what I am looking for at that moment. As technology continues to improve, video games will start to provide role playing experiences that offer a similar level of depth as tabletop rpgs. Stories that perfectly align with the development
of the protagonist won’t only exist in titles with predefined playable characters. It will be awhile, but I really do think it
will happen. With that said, even though those kinds of games are stil a ways off what I learned from my time
with Outer Worlds is that players can close a surprising amount of that gap by putting
in the work. Video games are an interactive medium, and the more the player chooses to
interact with it, there’s a pretty good chance that they will get more out of it as
well. And on the topic of storytelling, this video
is sponsored by Audible. Audible is a digital service that offers an
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with, I’d recommend checking out The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It is one of my favorites, and it’s also
really long so it will last you for a while. And if you choose this title or any other
and find that you aren’t enjoying that specific audiobook, Audible is really forgiving with
its return policy and will let you switch it out for one that is a better fit. With the holidays coming up, Audible is a
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3 months of Audible for over half off the regular price. Anyway, thanks to Audible for sponsoring this
video. For all of you who watched this video, thank
you; you’re incredible, and I appreciate you. More videos are coming soon, so ya know do
what you will with that information. Until then, I hope you have a great day and/or
night, and I will see you in the next one.

Comments (100)

  1. Thanks for watching. First off, if you wanna keep up to date with me and stuff I am putting out, follow me on twitter @theRazbuten.

    Secondly, I will have one more video this year (I had my wife, also known as the Lady I Live With, play what I think is the most important game of the decade), so get excited for that. It has been a really cool time for the channel, and I am excited to keep putting out stuff that you all hopefully enjoy. I hope the 2020 will be the most productive and prolific year the channel has had so far, and that'd be impossible with out your support. So, with all of my heart: thank you. I appreciate you.

    Lastly, let me know your experiences with roleplaying in video games? Do you relate? Have you tried to do the shit I did in this video? How'd it go? I am definitely curious as to how other people approach it.

  2. Role-playing seems inconvenient as fuck and a bit of a waste of time

  3. At that point, why even play a game? These games are structured to have limited choices and limited outcome, so really, all you're doing is playing with yourself. Why not write a book or have a context (like actual PnP RPG) where the world reacts to who your character actually is, rather than having to make everything up? I don't understand roleplaying in that sense, what's the point of roleplay if the world doesn't actually acknowledge the role you play?

  4. Its hard for me to RP in games. I mostly do things a certain way just to get a reward I want ie a weapon armour piece someones friendship/romance etc

  5. I have recently asked this same question about myself. Why do I always play myself when role playing?
    I guess I feel like there are only two basic options in most RPG’s: Be a dick, be a good guy.

  6. I think the most I've ever "role-played" in a video game was in Breath of the Wild, and I had to actively try to make it work.
    I'd already watched a friend play through the like 80% of the game, so I knew everything except Hyrule Castle. So when I got around to playing myself, I decided to take a different approach. It's pretty fan-fictiony (and a little cringe), but I made my Link in love with Miphra, and close friends with the Zora. And that dictated pretty much every decision I made from that point.

    When I started the game, my Link wandered around Hyrule for a few hours, dazed and confused, and feeling like something was missing (which allowed me to get used to the game). He tried tackling Hyrule Castle per Zelda's request, but he still felt like something was wrong and he lacked the strength to finish it (more like I did, but whatever).
    Eventually my Link remembered the four Champions, and he immediately headed westward as his memories flooded back. He reached the Zora kingdom and found Miphra's memories and her statue. I had my Link put either a Silent Princess or Blue Nightshade at the base of the statue every time he passed it in mourning, depending on what he had on hand (and he made sure he ALWAYS had one ready). Once he got the Zora tunic, he never took it off. Those were his clothes for the rest of the game (I did take time to find the legs and helmet).

    Finishing the main story was all Link did from that point. Miphra's ghost was suffering by Calamity Ganon, and he needed to end that fact as immediately as possible. So he finished Vah Ruta, hiked back to Hyrule Castle as quickly as possible, and with his better equipment and strength took down Calamity Ganon. He even dealt the final blow with Miphra's spear as a final act of vengeance.

    It was incredibly corny, but it was also a lot of fun. Link felt like I was actually playing someone that lived 100 years prior to the current environment, who'd lost almost everything and the most important person he'd cared about in a bygone age. I was making decisions for him, but they weren't based so much on gameplay benefits and more on what I thought he would do, even to the point of skipping the vast, vast majority of the game.

    I'd never really tried roleplaying quite that hard in a video game before (and even that was pretty basic), but I think the reasoning is exactly like what was brought up in the video: It's just so easy to not think as a roleplayer in a video game. All you really need to worry about are the end-goals and how to get there efficiently. Putting in more thought past that takes effort, even minimally.

  7. Dragon Age and Fallout 3 changed me on personal level, it may of been due to how young I was but at the time I was asked questions I never thought I would NEED to answer. Like what would I do if the woman I loved shared my feelings but ultimately couldn't convince herself to stay. Or how would I be if after believing I saved my dad he then gets taken from me for good? I do see what you mean though, because I feel in games with weaker narratives that this does become the case like in ES or the other Dragon Ages.

  8. I went into this video wanting to understand why I also don’t role play in rpgs, something I enjoy outside of video games. And holy crap yeah, you took the exact amount of dedication to role play in a video game and I have zero time for that in a video game with very little payout lol. Side note: I love you for recommending the name of the wind, live long brother

  9. i just monologue while shitting between game sessions

  10. The most fun I've had with Roleplaying in a video game has to be my most recent character in Fallout: New Vegas, with the New California mod.

    New California gave me a few specific ways for me to create my character's backstory, because it serves as a prequel to the New Vegas storyline. At first, he was headstrong and callous, as the protagonist at the beginning of New California is still a teenager. Of course, he acted on impulse; jumping into dangerous situations, lashing out at those he saw as his enemies, regardless of the risks.

    As I was playing on hardcore, the companions that follow you through New California weren't essential. When my choice to fight the final boss at the end of the mod ended up costing me the lives of a couple of my companions, I decided not to reload a save. It would serve as character growth for my protagonist. After the fight was over, it jumps into the New Vegas storyline proper years afterwards, as you're shot in the head while delivering a package. He was older now, and had aged with the surviving members of my group. He had lost his headstrong nature, and was perhaps a bit too cautious and protective most of the time, but he was still nobody you want to mess with.

    That character has over 100 hours in his story alone, more than a third of my time with New Vegas in total. And it was simultaneously the most fun I've had with a video game, and the most difficult to let go of. By the time he was reaching the end of the main questline, he had already maxed out all of his skills. It got to a point where I would open the "Quests" section of my pip boy, and it took a good five seconds to load it all. He had seen everything the Mojave had to offer, so I decided it was time to end his story.

    I can't wait for another series to do what New California and New Vegas had done.

  11. You know you can ignore the skyrim main quest and dragons never appear right

  12. Oh ok. Hum. Sorry. But Fuck.
    A spoiler alert would have been great for fallout 4.
    I've spent plenty of hours on this game by now, just to be spoiled the end.
    Time to uninstall it…

  13. this is a decent video.

    but I have to point something out you got wrong: that its not possible for todays video games to lean more into the roleplaying aspects that tabletop games do.

    The only thing thats an impossibility, is to try and craft what seems like a cohesive story to be TOLD in the game, rather then to be experienced, with 99.9999% of games starting and ending in the effectively same places. even with games that claim to give you the ability to choose your path, they often lead you back to doing the same thing, and thus we naturally will aim more to give ourselves the most effecient route to play said game. what would give us the "best" reward for the effort we put in.

    The big problem is that the way to implement this idea into an RPG video game is not impossible, but it would put more work on the story tellers to make things work cohesively. As the simpliest way to help encourage people to actually roleplay more in a roleplay game – remove the ideas of a main quest. in reality, life does not have any singular BBEG. neither should an RPG wanting to imitate it.

  14. no other game that made me role play more is morrowind. nothing else even come close. yes you are blank slate but that is exactly the point. u w decide how you are going trough the world and world offers soooo much. npc even change how they look at you based on ur status and reputation.

  15. Don't agree at all about the Witcher and Fallout 4, I think the set characters actually ruin the roleplay aspect of those games and I'd be inclined to call them Action Adventures with Roleplay elements. However I think your approach with The Outer Worlds is exactly the sort of approach that needs to be accommodated by games and the one best done to date by Fallout NV (in terms of games with mass popularity).

  16. Somehow you manage to make the most relatable topics.

  17. What magic game was that near the beginning?

  18. I think you're over thinking this

  19. DWARF FORTRESS is the absolute best for RP

  20. I do wonder if you could develop a game to specifically cater to the concept of easing and pushing the player into Roleplaying like that.

  21. The problem is that CRPGs don't make you think about who are you character, what is his backstory, his traits. Players just don't think about roleplaying certain character.

  22. The only time i roleplayd in a videogame was a homeless insane old man in saints row 3 with a friend and some mmos. It was pretty fun actually. Role-playing with other people is always more fun.

  23. I sympathize deeply…but UNDERTALE….Maybe if writers did that kind of gigantic work on plots

    @Razbuten What's your opinion on MMOs?

  24. This is how I play every game that lets me. Your character might make you miss out on some quests, but that just leaves you a replay to do with a character who might do different kinds of quests.

  25. Minor nitpick, but I found it distracting when the captions didn't match what was being said.

  26. I’ve never played through a full rpg b/c ally brain cares about is the dopamine hit from WINNING and I get bored with character development before the end comes lol

  27. Divinity: Original Sin 2 almost did this right. Have pre-made characters with a backstory and the option to be a blank slate.

    But because of how open the class system is and the rewards from quests, my choices became based on class and party optimization.

    I think Obsidian can learn from this video and make their next outing to include premade characters, giving them a main subquest, changing parts of the main quest and maybe even remove certain quests(and rewards) to accomodate the premade.

    And then have a "blank" option to open everything up.

  28. I cant be bothered to give a fuck to read anything or listen to almost any of the voice actors' deliveries in Outer Worlds

  29. this is really interesting, i think i might take a more in-depth approach to my dragon age inquisition character. i've already made a few character decisions (not religious, hates talking about her feelings, only uses 2-handed weapons) but i'd like to do more. maybe she's uncomfortable around other dwarves, would rather put herself in danger than the rest of her party, and hates being called the herald of andraste.

  30. 0:42 stopped. Min max sounds more like you.

  31. I do in it mmorpg like WoW or rs to fuc with people that's about it. To do somthing like this in a solo player game has almost no purpose unless you were doing somthing like streaming the game and even than it's a bit wierd lol.

  32. This is why I like Skyrim with a good amount of role play mods like another start. It throws out the main quest lin entirely and allows you to wander through the game as a massive array of beginnings.

  33. DUDE I LOVE YOUR VIDEOS KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

  34. Diggin the disco elysium theme you snuck into the background

  35. I rarely have issues with role playing in games. My first play through is always the same though, evil. I find it a lot more difficult to play as myself though.

  36. Wait a sec. There's girl named Nyah in Fallout 4?

  37. Honestly, I think roleplaying in video games is so much easier in games that have the story either take a back seat, or just be something you really have to piece together. With no coherent narrative up front, the player is forced to fill in the blanks for themselves. This not only entails their respective character, but how that character might interpret the events around them. Think of the Dark Souls series, or Bloodborne. Nothing is ever spelled out for you. Everything is more cryptic than not, almost to a fault. But with the lack of forward story comes a much greater reward. The player may still be limited to a set number of classes or playstyles, but how that character, and thus the player, approaches the world around them can be potentially limitless. Look games such as Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur, Dragon's Dogma, and so on and so forth. All games are fantastic in their own right, but with such objectively linear stories and paths to take, can they rightly be considered "roleplaying games"? Even the definition of what a "roleplaying game" is has become so nebulous and difficult to define. I used to think it was all about classes and particular skill sets or skill trees, etc. Fact is, a roleplaying game should boarder on the infinite in terms of what can be accomplished. And what I think you're getting at with this video, is that most alleged "RPG's" just can't do that. Please correct me if I'm wrong, though.

  38. This is exactly how I play Batman anyone else?

  39. Every once in a while im like, you know some fallout 4 sounds good right now. Then I remember Preston exists, and how the last time I got on to play my level 58 characters save was corrupted. New Vegas all the way.

  40. Hopefully Cyberpunk will be on the right path to this goal.

  41. Raz, thank you for this, it will most assuredly change my approach to some games from now on

  42. In my first playthrough of an RPG, I usually play as a character who is deliberately constructed to be an expy of myself for this reason. I'm interacting with this world for the first time, so the characters is one who follows my usual predilections, though these aren't necessarily the "best" choices. On all of my subsequent playthroughs, I start off with a specific character in mind, and role-play accordingly. I did with Dragon Age Origins, Fallout 1, 2, and New Vegas, Planescape Torment, etc.

  43. The game I found myself roleplaying the most in (aside from divinity 2) is surprisingly stellaris for some reason

  44. lol, you sound like you would be a ton of fun to play DnD (or some other game with) with.

  45. I do the same thing

  46. Very interesting never even considered doing this just always played how I wanted

  47. Finding more and more recently in newer RPGs its harder to role play. It seems like most of the time role play is solely on the player's imagination rather than in game tools like Origin stories(Dragon Age, Mass Effect 1, MB:Warband) and in game perks that INCLUDE perk unique dialogue and plenty of it (Fallout NV).
    Throughout my Mass Effect series playthrough I played a renegade, but not the run of the mill dick Shepard renegade, the ruthless ends justify the means kind. He was also slightly racist due to his colony being attacked by Battarians (an origin option in ME1). After he joined the Alliance there was a crucial battle he won by sending many people to their deaths to ultimately win the battle (another origin aspect available in ME 1 thus justifying the renegade, get it done at all cost style of leadership). What those options did was set the course for that Shepard to be one of the most satisfying role playing experiences over not 1 game but 3 that consistently called back to old interactions and experiences which was surreal.
    My Renegade always made the "hard" choice for the greater good. Killing the Rachni Queen because he can't risk it. Going after a terrorist instead of saving colonists, thus making sure the threat never returns. Supporting Udina for the council seat because from what he's experience the aliens don't give a crap about Humans and we need our own interest protected. Giving Reaper tech to the Illuminated Man, since that tech could turn the tide of the upcoming war. Sabotaging the cure for the Krogan disease, by killing a good old friend, because the Krogan are too dangerous to allow expand again. Rejecting every attempt of indoctrination in the end very easily due to his constant resolve throughout the entire series.
    That whole playthrough was setup by simple origin choices at the start of ME 1. Also supported by Bioware's ability to craft a great story and over arching narrative that had so many meaningful choices.

  48. Actually, this has kind of help me define a problem I've been having a lot recently with open world RPGs. Because I find it very unnatural to sidequest. I can't help but roleplay a little bit whenever I'm playing a game at least to the point I try to act like I'm a real person within the game world and not the flesh puppet of some asshole with a controller and a free afternoon.
    I've been playing New Vegas recently. I'm quite early on in the game and the log on my pip boy is telling me "hey, someone in the Mohave Express in Primm knows something about this job that got you shot" so I roll into town, and everything's cordoned off because of the powder gangers. So, after trying to get the NCR to help or do anything, I decided to push on into the town regardless, and beeline into the Mohave Express to see what I can find. I find ED-E, and spend some time scrounging the parts and skill mags I'd need to repair it. Then after ED-E couldn't tell me anything useful, I dived into the hotel to see if I could find the guy I was looking for as a hostage. Instead I found the cowardly deputy, and after he buggered off I realized that he must be hiding in another building which led me to look in the Vikki and Vance, where I found the guy I was looking for.
    Then some asshole shoves a quest in my face to find their town a new sheriff and my immersion shatters. I'm supposed to be a courier investigating what happened to me, not an ADD suffering busybody intent on fixing every damn problem the world has. Hell, I legit have ADHD IRL and I find it difficult to understand why my character would veer off constantly to get involved in all this crap, and yet from a gameplay perspective you're encouraged to do these constantly. Because it's content and you get rewarded.
    This really solidified in my mind while I was playing Just Cause 2, and I realised I was enjoying getting involved because completing side content inherently feeds into the main plot, so it felt rewarding and coherent and dicking around and having fun was still very immersive.

  49. I tried playing Skyrim as an abject coward once. It made combat encounters fun, thinking about how as someone who wants to avoid getting in combat as much as possible would fight, but then I started to realise that I could never really complete most quests because that would mean I'd have to knowingly set out to fight monsters.

  50. I have always defaulted to playing characters more or less like myself. I think it's easier to feel for the other characters when my character thinks the same things that I do, which in turn makes me more invested. So I think it would be harder to get immersed in a game when you have to make decisions that don't reflect your own opinions.

  51. ROLE. CRITICAL. ROLE

  52. Wow I'm playing through Fallout 4 and now I'm like "fuck spoilers just hit me"…

  53. I feel like Multiplayer RPG's should really flourish more because a good multiplayer roleplaying session gives you so much satisfaction.

  54. CV hhh the ich zu zu zu jo uiuiui iv DW bggg ggf das r RT hi of hi ugh butt see e are referring to the fact that I have been a little more than I could ever be

  55. Great video as usual.
    Can you make one about Disco Elysium, though? I haven't played the game (yet) but I'd love to know your opinion of it.

  56. Dirk Gently: Everything is connected

  57. Somtimes good sometimes not

  58. i roleplay every character in any game , like i did not do certain missions in vice city because it would not make sense why Tommy would do them
    on the side note: i make my characters life as miserable as possible if i can , in mass effect i talked to someone , and bonded and to make me sad in real life i killed her off , because why not

  59. I don't play RPGs. I find them boring.

    Horizon Zero Dawn was the exception

  60. For me, the problem is that my inner roleplayer usually clashes with my inner completionist, and usually, the completionist wins. Except for Skyrim, I tried a completionist run, I was ca. level 80 and finished the main quest, Dawnguard, thieves guild, companions and college of Winterhold (and a lot of minor quests) and then I gave up. But I played it several times in character (every few ingame days I wrote a diary entry from my character's perspective) and it was quite fun. It's the only way I can play the game without it feeling like I'm just going through the quests like checking items off a list.

  61. Very interesting take. I love RPG's, but I thought the roleplaying itself just wasn't for me. Funny enough I loved being Gerald in the Witcher but thought it didn't really count as the character was predefined. This shines a lot of light onto things that I've felt before but didn't have the words to describe.

  62. I feel that quest design and really choice in general in RPGs should be more apples and oranges, rather than better or worse. By having decisions being better or worse it frames our decisions in a skewed way. If being an asshole gives me that secret gun with a one of a kind effect, while the other nice choice gives some money, I'm gonna be an asshole.

    Now that doesn't mean EVERY reward needs to be even, but if a "good" decision lead to a meager short term reward, but opened the possibility to a powerful item AS OPPOSED TO making a "bad" decision and receiving a great item and an opportunity to get a match item to make the set about even to the powerful item from the other path… I'd call that even.

    The more powerful item takes longer to get, but you get something right away with the other decision. In the long term they're about even, but since one of these is a single item, it allows more freedom in a build.

    So gain power faster, but with some minor short comings or earn it, but you'll be lacking for a while.

  63. Disco Elisium is the best "Role-play" video game that I have ever played.

  64. I've come to realize that the very same thing happens in dungeons and dragons as well.
    I start with a character with their own morals and ideals, but as the game progresses I tend to look at every scenario thru the lens of myself, a person who wants to get the most out of everything they do while also engaging with the least risk possible.
    It might be because real me wants my character to live and thrive, or it could be that I just naturally resort to whatever I would do in the heat of the moment. Either way, I find it hard to stay in character.

  65. So basically, games don't provide a smart enough introduction and choice collection for the player to feel comfortable roleplaying in this uncertain environment. Seems fair.

  66. fuck meta gaming just try to have fun you will find a better experience

  67. I'm the same way. I don't understand the concept of role playing or why I'd want to do it. I tried D&D and found it insufferable. In RPGs, I just do whatever I prefer. It's just a game.

  68. Thank you. Somebody gets it

  69. I much, much rather play as a predefined character. It's so cool to be Geralt or someone else that's just a cooler damned guy than me, lol.

  70. I find role-playing can come very naturally if I stop for a while, and think about where a certain character came from, and how he got to where he is. I usually try to bend character arcs into following the main story, because it lets me actually experience more of the game… but very often you get a game that just gets you with meaningless decisions, and it just doesn't feel good.

  71. What's the game at 2:16? 😮

  72. On my first playthrough, I play as me. But only in the first playthrough.

    Afterwards, I always make a character and roleplay.

  73. 10:42 why did you waste actual paper on a videogame?

  74. Ok u do u, just don't rationalise it for us k

  75. I think the only time I actually made a choice based off of how I thought a specific character would act was when I played Chrono Trigger and I got to make the choice of whether or not Frog would fight Magus. I made the choice that I thought Frog would make, to fight and defeat Magus to avenge his master, even though I KNEW that if I didn't then I would probably unlock Magus as a character to play as. It just didn't feel right to how I thought Frog would act.

  76. Projecting yourself into a game is only interesting if you not only project your strenghts but als your weaknesses on to your avatar.

    Unfortunately most rpgs only give you the option to put points in positive aspects of your character like perks or increasing your skill points. Only very few rpgs get stat systems right. Fallout 1, 2 and New Vegas are one of the few that get it right. While at first glance it might work like a traditional stat system, the stats can be decreased to a point where it creates severe penalties for the character. If you have low strength there are some weapons you simply cannot use, or not use efficiently. If your charisma is low you will miss out on a lot of skill checks that a charismatic character would have.

    Most rpgs are actually just stat games, meaning games where you just power up your stats to get a stronger character so you can beat stronger enemies which help you get even stronger. That's not an rpg if you go strictly by the definition of the word roleplaying. You are not playing a role, your are not playing a character. You are playing an avatar whose only purpose is to increase their stat values.

    True rpgs are actually real rare as most developers don't really develop rpgs. They develop addicting stat games where you are massively incentivized to increase your stats more and more. Actualy rpgs are not very interesting to the average player because, as was said in the video, this style of playing a game can be very exhausting, where as the average gamer plays to relax.

  77. I think an underlying point presented through a lot of this video is the drive to 'complete' everything. I really do think a lot of open world RPGs have been going down the path of throwing achievements for completing chunks of quests and the like, or simply encouraging players to consume every bit of content in one go. Developers like having their hardwork scene, but to a lot of people the fun of the RPG is comparing what one character experience versus another. Denying content in equal measure might shrink a game's length, but I've found it tends to enrich each choice.

  78. Closest thing to this I’ve done is making Jesus as a mage healer in Dragon Age: Origins. For each decision, I’d ask WWJD. ?

    Naturally this led to doing most the quests/helping people a lot.

    He also became a bloodmage. Whoopsie. ?

  79. This is why I stopped playing Obsidian games for the role playing. Sure, they are role playing, but not really.
    That and dated techniques in gameplay that don't interest me in a new title when I already own 20 of the same gameplay style.

  80. I don't roleplay even in tabbletop RPGs, so no way I would do so in digital games.

  81. Eh. Video games have the problem they have too limited options. Given situations I will find other solutions that don't exist in video games which bugs the hell out of me.
    Many rpgs have set endings in mind and push you to choose one of these against anything else you may have in mind.

  82. When i try to roleplay as a bad guy/asshole in games i always fail, like, i tell myself, okay now i'm BAD! but first moral choice and bam, back to being polite, which is frustating bacause i'm always polite in real life, willingly or not, and i want to try to vent my repressed anger or something like that but jjust can't

  83. You should play the Shadowrun games, they have perfect writing and your character fits perfectly into the world and story without standing out or being a "chosen one". Especially in Hong Kong your character has pre-defined events that happened in his life (you get to decide why these events occurred) that really make him a character in the story and not nameless protagonist. Tbh it's more of a novel really, a pure roleplaying experience with x-com combat.

  84. I like playing as an extension of myself because it helps me feel more immersed with and between the relationships of characters in the game.

  85. Roleplaying is cringe and you take it to another level.

  86. I'm pretty much the complete opposite of you lol, even though, the last half of the video pretty much could be applied to a game like Skyrim. It's all down to your imagination. I *could* apply similar logic to an Elder Scrolls setting and say that my over-confident vampire hunter went in search for glory, and ended up turning into one himself after an attack, and this forces the game to change due to his new affliction. (They really need to make vampires and werewolves more of a curse though lol, they're so easy to cure and manage)
    For me, playing as a set character like Geralt doesn't feel like role playing, as I'm always going to be Geralt, just a slight variation of him (I'm saying this as a huge fan of the Witcher games). But with a game like Skyrim, my character can be pretty much anything. The only real difference with your outerworlds example is that the drug addiction mechanic gave you an idea for your character's development. The Elder Scrolls games are flawed as all hell, so it's a shame I only really feel the freedom of making my own characters in these games.

    I will say though, no matter the type of RPG, I generally play as myself on a first time playthrough.

  87. ok but Put this versus Disco Elysium you’ll be sad how bad this game is

  88. Huh… I honestly never thought of "role-play" in the sense you described between two kinds of games; one with a pre-defined character, and one you can create, to which the irony of it all is… that the created character usually ends up just being me in a fictional setting, while a pre-defined character like Geralt or Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn) was actual role-playing for me since I wasn't being me. It's given me a different outlook on how I have played past games, and I learned to appreciate both types even more so now.

  89. I have a much easier time roleplaying in games where you are given opportunities to do so without in some way feeling like you are playing the game "wrong". For example, even though the options in Mass Effect were kind of boring in how binary they were, something like that is a lot easier for me to latch on to than doing something like you did in The Outer Worlds where you are intentionally having to make "suboptimal" decisions and skipping content in order to stay in character. This is why your observation about predefined characters being easier for a gamer like me to become immersed in (compared to blank slates) was such a great point.

    Interestingly, it seems that (videogame) RPG players are split about 50/50 into either camp of finding one or the other approach to be better. This is based on the arguments I used to see on /v/ between Dragon Age and Witcher fans, among other observations.

  90. That's why I don't like Morrowind

  91. The way you play by writing an entire character is… interesting. It seems too time consuming though, and on the border of obsessive

  92. I'm the same. Actually one of the reasons why I started to do gameplay videos where I do no commentary "roleplaying", as in staying in a certain character. Funny how much fun that can be and how different the experience becomes. I never roleplayed in The Elder Scrolls. Just did all the quests, no question. Easily 1000-2000 hours in the series. Odd.

    But, then, you could argue games shouldn't narrow it down, shouldn't even give you any cutscenes to not get you to feel dissociated from your character, which should be you. You in that world, not you controlling someone in that world. The latter makes for much more questions to face, much more unexpected moves, but it isn't you that much then, is it? Hence the anger when Master Chief started talking so much, hence the silence of The Elder Scrolls' characters. Both are great in their own rights.

  93. Space Station 13 is a very good role playing game were you can fully play whatever character you want, and everyone reacts do you're choices properly as they are all other players.

  94. Firstly, this is a damn-near perfect video.

    Secondly, I whole-heartedly agree with you, and I've been experiencing much of the same throughout my gaming life—oftentimes without even realizing it. In fact, it's this kind of frustration from not being able to get the roleplaying experience that I desire with singleplayer RPGs that led me to take a very similar approach to what you did in The Outer Worlds, only with Skyrim a few years ago. I determined a rather in-depth backstory and a few specific character traits to adhere to with this particular character that came to define a lot about how they interacted with this world I'd already seen a hundred times that revealed new perspectives to me—and most importantly, I journaled extensively in-character during this entire character's journey and that kicked the experience into overdrive. By about the third day I was completely invested in this character in a way I hadn't been invested in a singleplayer RPG since my childhood and I was so excited for each twist and turn in their adventure. Ultimately, the journey ended up being a shorter one than I anticipated as the character was already quite old and world-weary before the events of the game even began and I rather quickly reached a logical point of retirement for the character within about two weeks, but damn if that journey of discovering the character and bonding with them wasn't one of the most fulfilling gaming experiences I've ever had.

  95. That was amazing! This could really be a great idea for a film… seriously.

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