Sunday, July 10, 2011

P&P RPGs vs. Computer RPGs

What aspect of Pencil & Paper RPGs is intrinsically superior to Computer RPGs?   One word:  Creativity.

As a Player, I can only do what the computer programmers and level designers come up with for me to do.  Even if it's a million things, the fact is, I as the Player can not "invent" any of them.  I can only select from the list of things that someone else invented for me to do.

As a Gamesmaster, I can create my World with the infinite variety and complexity that pleases my artistic sense.  But in a Computer RPG I can not do that.  I can only go along for the ride as a Player.  I can not do any of the cool things that Gamesmasters can do in their own Worlds.  Of course there have been some pretty good games that allow people to create their own Levels of Dungeons, and Gamesmaster to a certain degree.  But I think that even the best of these are left in the dust by a Pencil & Paper RPG, which has no limitations to what can be invented, since there are no constraints other than limits of human imagination.

So for creativity I go with Pencil & Paper RPGs.

That said, what Computer RPGs give us is immediacy.  I can hop on to a game instantly.  No scheduling with friends required.  I can run around in artistically beautiful looking Worlds.  I can run around and gain points and level up and brag to my friends.  I can even, if I want to, schedule time with my friends to meet them online and play with them.  So for instant gratification, and eye candy, nothing beats the Computer RPG.

Which is better?  Well, that depends on what you're really interested in.  But one thing is certain... despite the similarity in names, Computer RPGs are a very different animal than Pencil & Paper RPGs.  And for me, Pencil & Paper RPGs win hands down, every time.
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