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The Evolution of RPGs: Past, Present, and Future

The Evolution of RPG games

Ever wondered why we love to get lost in made-up adventures, act as imaginary characters, or dive into a story that changes based on our choices? If this sounds exciting to you, you've probably experienced the thrilling world of Role-Playing Games (RPGs).


What is an RPG? 


This is a genre that takes you on a roller-coaster ride through a fantasy world, full of objectives, character customisation and a storyline tailored to your preference. Ever imagined yourself as a brave knight one day, and then an ugly villainous ogre the next? It's all possible in RPG... 
But why are they so popular? Simple - they're tons of fun. Imagine a game that gives you the steering control of the storyline through the choices you make, and allows your character to evolve. Bet you can see why "role-playing games (RPGs) accounted for 12.9% of video game sales in the United States in 2020"


RPG, The Past to Now 


Back in the 70s, RPGs were simple figurines inspired heavily by the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Since the Bellbottoms and Flares era, they've grown up and been on an unimaginably immersive journey. Today, RPGs are a popular genre of complexity, full of digital worlds where our decisions shape fate itself.  Computers, once clunky giants, became the stepping stone on which RPGs began to develop, forging an alliance that has grown deeper with time. The Threefold Model, a revolutionary RPG dialogue from the late '90s, carved a path for the genre that has only enriched over the years. From tabletop dice rolls to commanding digital avatars, it has certainly evolved.


Gamer playing RPG game


What Makes a Successful RPG


So, what sets the successful RPGs apart from the other game genres? We've identified these key elements that make an RPG truly shine: 

  • Engaging Story: A successful RPG weaves an intricate storyline that sucks you in. RPGs aren't just games – they're stunning narratives that unfold one level at a time.
  • Character Development: Have you ever grown attached to a virtual persona? It's a hallmark of great RPGs, where character development goes beyond just levelling up, it’s about a journey and evolution that pull at heartstrings.
  • Creative Freedom: A standout RPG doesn’t confine you inside a box - it's more of a sandbox that invites you to build sandcastles. Players should have some control over their destiny. Choose to slay the dragon...or tame it, the choice is yours.
  • Immersive World: Phenomenal RPGs master the art of world-building and craft breathtaking landscapes that make you forget about the real world.

The Editor of Dungeons, Delves and Dice sums up how an RPG game should make you feel, “You get to step out of your own life and into somebody else’s, your problems fade away as you find other things to occupy your mind. You stop worrying about the gas bill and start worrying about whether that Ogre has seen you or not.”


Gamer girl playing RPG VR game


The Future of RPGs 


Looking ahead, the future of RPGs is bright, with emerging technologies like VR, AR, and AI. “We’re only at the beginning of the groundbreaking experiences and immersive fun that we’re going to be able to create for players”, reports EA CEO Andrew Wilson to Protocol, “using more A.I., machine learning, adding social layers to make connection and communication seamless and more. Where we’re going will be truly transformative.”

As technology advances, so too will the depth and richness of these worlds, ensuring that RPGs remain at the forefront of gaming innovation and enjoyment for years to come. Kat Bailey, former Editor-In-Chief of USgamer, wrote “I’m comforted knowing that there are new and rich role-playing experiences out there waiting to be discovered.” 


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Passionate minds of Kwalee, delivering captivating insights for gamers and developers alike.

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