Oh wow, i cant believe this discussion kept going over here. I kinda left early on because it wasn't going anywhere, but i kind of want to go back through memory lane.OK, so I threatened in another thread to start this, and since you're all such civilised people, and as I may be blinking in and out of existence for the next few weeks which means Sard may need to moderate (giggle) if you start fighting, here goes.
A lot of developers define games as "RPG". In some cases, especially with the aRPG, people disagree with the tag.
What do you consider the essential features that a videogame needs in order to be called an RPG? Examples? What isn't essential but its presence strengthens the role-play element?
So... me first, Because.
1. My character must have a personality, and I must be able to determine it to a certain extent. There can be boundaries - it's OK if the game only gives me limited choices, stops me from (for example) killing everyone I see, but I have to have some impact on what kind of person my character is.
2. My character must have a motivation which goes beyond "Kill the enemy and loot" or "Get from A to B without dying". So it needs a story, a mission, a main quest. The motivation may change as the game progresses, but it must always be present.
3. There must be choice and consequences that go beyond "Choose the right weapon/upgrade or die". These choices don't need to change the world, and there don't need to be a lot of them, but they need to exist.
Examples. These are all defined by some at least as aRPG.
The Witcher 2 - definitely, it meets all the criteria.
Deus Ex HR - Yes, but only just, because Choice & Consequence isn't strong (and I disregard the ending, which I see as a player judgement on the world, not a choice with consequences)
Dishonored - Right on the edge, because Corvo remains a cipher, and you only really get the one personality/C&C point, the decision on whether or not to make him a killing machine.
Bioshock Infinite - No, because even though Booker has a strong personality, you get no opportunity to tune it, and there's no C&C. The only criterion matched is the existence of a strong story.
Torchlight - No, he/she just kills and loots.
Nice to have but not essential:
Character Customisation at the start of the game: It helps, but a strong pre-defined character should allow effective role-play without this.
Freedom to do what you want: Story is more important, so there need to be boundaries, but a good game will allow more freedom of expression before hitting those boundaries.
Again i dont think there is one defining element to an rpg. but a series of elements that a game must have as a majority of, but not exclusively, to be considered an RPG.
those three elements you said there are not enough. Games Like gears of war and Specs ops: the line Have all 3 elements, while there are a good number of RPGS that lack element 1 and 3.