Hang on, hear me out before you go around stabbing your copy of Final Fantasy XIII. I mean the term Role Playing Game. The definition of RPG has been thrown around a lot in recent times and I think its time it was put out of its misery. RPG is not a adequate genre defining term. Unlike when you say Third Person or shooter, RPG does not instantly bring to mind anything except other games that have claimed to have been RPG’s. Let’s face it, all games have you playing a role. I’m not Nathan Drake, it’s just a role I’ve assumed. Bioware reckons it’s story and character, Squenix reckons its stats and experience points. But neither of those things are exclusive to games that call themselves RPG’s. God of War has levelling up and experience. Infamous and Heavy Rain have character choices.
In the end the term is a false one. All those things that people list as defining what RPG’s are, are just features any game can have. Final Fantasy is a turn based strategy (or tactics) game. Mass Effect is a third person shooter. That they both emphasise story more than say Civilazation or Uncharted, does not change their genre. On that note, Borderlands is an FPS – it just happens to have a different set of features to Halo. So anytime I hear the term RPG being used, be prepared to be called out on it. There is, after all, always a more accurate alternative.