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
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night, and I will see you in the next one.

100 thoughts on “Roleplaying in Video Games (and why I barely do it)

  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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

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

    Afterwards, I always make a character and roleplay.

  23. 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.

  24. 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. Traits with benefits and trade offs add a lot of depth to characters. Unfortunately only very few rpgs actually have them.

    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 really 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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. 😬

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

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

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. My problem is there is never enough grey areas when it comes to a created character rpg it’s either give the all your money to the settlement or they all die it’s not some die but some live you give them half it’s either good guy or bad guy there is never any grey which is needed sometimes there is not bad option and that’s the worst

  40. I’ve always wanted to do something like you did with outworlds for some reason I just can’t no matter how many tries or how hard I do no matter what I do I start off strong but after about 3-4 hours it all falls apart and I end up playing the exact same way like fo4(I really liked this game btw) I played through it at least 6times and every time I tried to role play heavy and every-time it ended the same way and I forget all about the character and I’m mad I can’t fully do it you should make a vid about that if u haven’t already

  41. My role-playing in games like Outer World's (5+ playthroughs already) is usually more like a simple "let's pretend", like let's pretend I'm a hard ass corporate fixer who's fed up with the corporates who killed his family when he got in someone's way, and now he's in Halcyon and is ready to kick some corporate ass. I have a back story but I'm still me, responding to (vastly) different circumstances than my "real" life. This results in a some similar choices in different playthroughs, but also some wildly different ones, like pretending to betray Phineas, which opens up a whole other sequence of actions.

  42. You could try playing kenshi, it has the advantage of being a sandbox RPG so there isn't a set story to get in the way of your role-playing, there are some interactions and relations between races and factions that to a first time player might make role playing heard, but since there isn't any set story, it has near infinite repayability. Also the relations between everyone isn't hard to figure out, and you could just look it up.

  43. For me playing Dragon Age: Origins was really RP experience. I did not have outside notebook for the character but it was dwarf with his own morals and opinions and he would turn down quests he deemed unmoral or against his goals. Let me say the ending put me into tears as he did the only thing possible because of his morals (and having the final battle without being sure how scripted it will be, I had him solo the last 5% of it to be sure he will deal the killing blow for real, intense as hell).

  44. I don’t really play RPGs where you have to create your own character, but I do enjoy roleplaying as established characters. For example, I got really into Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us and played it several times, the first time as “myself” because I didn’t know where my choices would lead or how they would influence the story. Bigby’s backstory is that he used to be the Big Bad Wolf and a lot of people still see him that way, even though he is now a detective, so whenever I replay the game I make a conscious decision to either “try to do good and show them I have changed” or “revert back to the monster everyone thinks I am”.

    And I don’t know if this counts as roleplaying, but I get really into singleplayer games like Uncharted. In one of the games, the protagonist lies to someone important to him at the beginning of the game; later, his lie is revealed and you have to travel alongside that character for a few chapters. I always feel really guilty at that point, because by that point in the narrative I really identify with the protagonist, and I start to apologise to that character irl, talking to my tv, haha.

  45. What I tend to do is start off with a reflection of myself and then building a new character off of that based on what I see in the game. This was quite literally expressed when I was playing final fantasy xiv because while my character started as a pretty close representation of myself, when I finished the main story I actually redesigned her quite a bit to make her more of her own character, rather than just a reflection of me.

    Micah Molbhiya went from being a Keeper of the Moon Mi'qote because that was the character I liked the most, to influencing my decisions based on that fact of her character – while I'd intended to play the whole game as a White Mage, when I got to Heavensward I was met with the urge to switch to astrologian, even though that took HOURS of grinding to get back up to story quest level, because it felt right for a Keeper of the Moon with an affinity with the Goddess of Fate to follow that path. Heck, I even chose a hairstyle to reflect that aspect of her character (SPACE buns ;)).

    It's the best way for me to experience a game for the first time, because I find making characters very difficult and it let's me explore the world more naturally while eventually building up a unique character

  46. Divinity: Original Sin 2 does a great job in this department. There are pre-defined characters if you want them, but you still have room to make them your own. It's not 100% open-ended, but it's a step above the usual "choose a side in this conflict" fare of most RPGs.

  47. The only time i feel comfortable with actually role playing in a video game is on my 3rd or 4th playthrough, once I've taken in the story and world and make all the good moral choices a couple times then I can let loose and do whatever. Even then the only games I could really do this in were fallout games

  48. That's what I realy loved about Divinity Original Sin 2 you can choose a role for yourself or choose a Kind of preset one and through all your options you can realy express them.

    For example the Dragon born that is a sleeper. You can let him live or kill him and other things.
    In my first play through I played as the Red prince he is arrogant and only interested in him self. So I killed the sleeper because it would make sense for his character. In my second playthrough as an elve I saved him because my character was kind and had nothing against him.

    The game realy gets you invested and you want to learn more about the character. It's one of the few games where I don't Skip dialog cause I don't want to be "rude" to the npc.

  49. My first try of roleplaying as the character instead of self-inserting me into the story was probably with Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
    The second mission demanded me to help a guy in the office who did illegal stuff and wanted me to help.
    As I saw Adam as a pretty strict and rightous character, I didn't help him with his illegal stuff, but if there'd been an option to arrest him, I wouldn't have done so either, as I knew Adam wanted to consider himself still human, even though he is a heavily augmented cyborg. His human emotions – interpreter by me – told him it was sufficient to not help that guy.
    In the end I lacked achievements, which is frustrating, because I actively skipped game content and the possibility to be rewarded with skill points, loot and avhievements.
    I'd probably reconsider my image of the protagonist, adjust it if necessary, to be able to both play the whole game and still feel like I played the role of the protagonist.

  50. Man, that was awesome.
    The problem with pre-established characters, on the other hand, is that they are rarely engaging for everyone. Most of them are more or less power fantasies with predefined problems, and if you cannot empathize with your characters, the whole game becomes a struggle to burn through the story instead of being fun.
    Tabletop games are different in that even pre-defined chars can usually be fine-tuned, and interaction with other players gives you new ideas, new goals to follow and new char traits to explore. CRPG world in this sense is still pretty much static.

    I'm yet to see a game system that encourages you to try different things through character interaction.

  51. This is why I've always been more of a jRPG guy. Yes, you technically are given a lot of opportunities in wRPGs to roleplay, but at the end of the day, it ends up being a slog of min-maxing and using the prompts I would use. Not much to latch on to. At that point, I would much rather have a linear, laid-out story with fully-established characters that I know is going somewhere and will give me moments to remember.

  52. This is why Cyberpunk will be a good game, you create your own character… BUT… You also choose your own backstory.

  53. I had the deserters move back to backwater, had Reed step down without killing him, had old lady leader become the leader and let her turn the cannery into a garden which helped the backwater guys get rid of the plague. THAT's the 'best option'. Rest of the vid is brilliant, just saying.

  54. Great video, but it would be nice to name the games in the background (via text or speech). Just using the games without crediting them, while also hindering the viewers who might take an interest into one of the games.

  55. I think this def varies from game to game and person to person. Some games are better for roleplaying than others (more open content style games are very easy to roleplay in). I know I myself will roleplay in Skyrim every now and then, quite often I'll step into Geralt's shoes in The Witcher, and I've spent hundreds of hours roleplaying in World of Warcraft.

  56. I have the same problem with rpg games as well. It’s gotten to the point to I ignore games that have customizable characters because of how uninterested I get when my character is so wooden, and I find bland character that you’re suppose to fill in with your own personality so lazy and I just don’t like it.

  57. this almost perfectly describes how i play most rpg's. But when i find a good game like outerworlds or d and d instead of choosing how i think the character will act i actually sub-conscientiously become the character. so instead of going "he would do this" i say "i will do this" even though its not a choice i'd make

  58. I've also recently started playing games as one of my own characters. I started in DOS 2 and had a memorable adventure with my character and his companions. No other game has done that for me.

  59. Played Mass Effect 5 times. Always played same class, same gender, paragon, same romance, EVERYTHING same…. Why am i like this?

    P. S. I could never kill mordin or Legion, but even other choices i dont do. I might try playing female as thats removed from me (haha self deprecating joke) so i might play renegade.

  60. You roleplay characters in non-mmorpg's??? Is this something people do?? I have NEVER heard of anyone doing that. :-/

  61. When roleplaying in TES style games, I inevitably run up against an important decision that they don't give enough information or options to make a decision that fits the character.

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