A screenshot from the game Wizardry

A computer role-playing game (CRPG), also known as a console role-playing game, or in video game circles simply as a role-playing game, is a game played on a computer or game system which emulates many characteristics of traditional role-playing games. For instance, you may have a player avatar, it may have rules for experience and advancement, and you may interact with other characters to influence a storyline.

Differences from traditional pen-and-paper RPGsEdit

A CRPG differs from a traditional role-playing game, also known as a pen-and-paper RPG, in a number of respects:

  • A role-playing game takes the form of a narration, with play consisting of a series of logically connected events. This is often preserved in a CRPG, but some elements may break this criterion. For instance, you may be able to restart or replay the game with characters who have already been through the adventure.
  • Critical game decisions are made mechanically by using a set of rules encoded into the game. As with any computer-generated decision-making, the results are consistent but not necessarily reasonable.
  • In an RPG, at least one player takes on the role of a specific character, making decisions as if that character. In a CRPG, you may or may not have a specific player avatar.
  • You are limited to actions programmed into the mechanical game engine.

Influence on RPGsEdit

Just as RPGs inspired CRPGs, so CRPGs in turn changed RPGs. Moria and Hack were early CRPGs that used ASCII graphics to allow play over a network. Later, that type of game led to Rogue and Rogue-like games. Wizardry was an early first-person CRPG, the first in color graphics, which relied on primitive graphics capabilities but displayed a map with a 3D appearance. Both Rogue-like games and dungeon crawling first-person games used and reinforced D&D tropes, such as levels, humanoid races, and strange creatures. As with traditional RPGs, CRPGs experimented with different advancement schemes and ways to customize characters, which in turn influenced RPG design.

Significantly, CRPGs led to the creation of MUDs, "multi-user dungeons," played by multiple players over a network, which evolved into MMOs, "massively multi-player online" games. Everquest crafted this genre. Laster on, Everquest itself inspired a traditional RPG based on its milieu. Dungeons & Dragons inspired Warhammer Fantasy, a brand of fantasy wargaming miniatures, which in turn inspired Warcraft, a real-time strategy game. Warcraft inspired both a traditional RPG and a MMO, World of Warcraft, which then spawned its own RPG, Warcraft: The Roleplaying Game.

On the console, the famous Brain Warrior/Dragon Warrior series and Final Fantasy series influenced a more gonzo blend of fantasy, less influenced by Tolkien and Moorcock and more by the vivid, melodramatic style of Japanese games, manga, and anime.

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