Role-playing games (or RPGs) are video games where players engage with the gameworld through characters who have backstories and existing motivations. The RPG genre often includes NPCs (non-player characters), side quests, downloadable content (dlc), and larger story arcs. Game designers were inspired by the game mechanics of tabletop role-playing games played in the era before home computers and game consoles were widely available. \n\nSome old-school RPGs, like *Ultima*, used timed turns, which you would find in a tabletop RPG. Other early RPGs, such as *Diablo* and *Wizardry*, featured more battles. In the years since, RPG developers have made role-playing games in various genres and subgenres with high-production value, epic open-world landscapes, and worldbuilding.\nComputer role-playing games (CRPGs) started to crop up in the 1970s on mainframe computers and developed from the immense popularity of pen-and-paper, tabletop role-playing games like *Dungeons \u0026 Dragons*, *Warhammer*, and *Cyberpunk*. Sports simulation games, adventure games, and fantasy novels also inspired many early RPGs. \n\n- __Tabletop tales__: The Dungeons \u0026 Dragons setup requires a dungeon master who directs gameplay and involves the players’ characters in various missions and side quests. While *D\u0026D* and the RPGs it inspired (including the *Dungeons \u0026 Dragons*-derived *Baldur’s Gate*) were generally medieval fantasy and adventure genres, other tabletop role-playing games centered on space missions, superheroes, combat, and pop culture. \n- __Big characters and complex problems__: *Vampire: The Masquerade* is an example of a tabletop role-playing game that focuses on character and story over battles. All of the characters are vampires being hunted while also hunting, giving the characters big problems to address. \n- __Mission and exploration__: Video game RPGs take inspiration from the mission-based, exploratory nature of tabletop games and eliminate the need for a game master to keep track of the plot. The gamer can keep track of their own gameplay with their chosen character. \n\nToday, RPGs exist on every kind of internet-enabled device. Outside of a computer, you can play RPGs on game systems such as a Nintendo Switch, Xbox, or mobile devices. The best games have a complicated storyline so they benefit from multiple playthroughs.\nThere are many types of RPGs, which are developed in various locations and with different gaming styles. Early on, there was a big difference between Japanese RPGs (JRPGs) and Western RPGs because of access to different types of computers and cultural variance. *Final Fantasy* is one of the most beloved JRPGs. Today, most RPGs are globally available. \n\n1. __Video game console RPGs__: After the original RPGs found success on mainframe computers in the 1970s, video game consoles came onto the market. The first one was the Atari in 1982, and today there are many options for consoles, from Xbox to Nintendo and Playstation. Current video game consoles can handle high-production games with tons of minigames and side quests. \n2. __Single-player RPGs__: This is a game where you play through one perspective and often use character creation screens so the player can customize their avatar with various characteristics. The best RPGs have many paths to take throughout the game, so every time you play is a new experience. \n3. __Massive multiplayer online RPGs (MMORPGs)__: Combining elements of massively multiplayer games (MMOs) and RPGS, these games have epic showdowns and battles between various players. *Fortnite*, *World of Warcraft*, and *League of Legends* are among the most popular of this kind of multiplayer RPG. The fights happen in real-time and gamers can flex their quick response battle skills. Some MMORPGs are co-op games, meaning gamers work together with party members to defeat opponents.\n4. __Action RPGs__: With a heavy emphasis on combat, this genre of RPG tends to focus more on battles and less on character or story. Examples of action RPGs with popular combat systems include *The Legend of Zelda*, *Dark Souls*, and *Mass Effect*.\n5. __Sandbox RPGs__: These RPGs are designed for world exploration and take the longest to finish because they’re so big and complex. Some of the popular RPGs of this style are *The Elder Scrolls*, *Disco Elysium*, and the *Fallout* series by Bethesda Softworks and Interplay Entertainment. \n6. __Tactical RPGs__: This kind of RPG takes the most inspiration from strategy games like chess and tabletop war games like Risk. \n7. __Roguelike RPGs__: Originating from the 1980 game *Rogue*, this role-playing subgenre is characterized less by theme or style, but by gameplay elements. Some of the common rogue RPG elements are a dungeon crawler character who navigates complex levels, permanent death of the main character, and randomized content.\nSome of the most popular RPGs have many choices, compelling stories, plentiful character customization, and battles. Gamers should be able to find new parts of the RPGs through different characters and pathways, with other plotlines determined by how well they do in battles. \n\n1. __*Dragon Age*__: Origins: In this game, you role play as a rogue, warrior, or mage and join the Grey Wardens order. As you travel through the fantasy world of Ferelden, you work to beat the Archdemon. \n2. __*The Elder Scrolls*__: This action RPG mostly focuses on free gameplay and battles. It has several versions, including, *The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind*, *The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion*, and *The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim*.\n3. __*Deus Ex*__: This science-fiction RPG takes place in the year 2052, where several companies struggle to control the world. \n4. __*Final Fantasy*__: This Square Enix franchise is a Japanese series of games. Each game features a new set of characters, locations, and plots.\n5. __*Pillars of Eternity*__: In this dark fantasy game from Obsidian Entertainment, you start as a Watcher who can talk to people’s souls. The game also allows a lot of choice in character design, so you can play many times in the storyline.\n6. __*Star Wars*__: The Old Republic: Developed by BioWare, the game begins during a moment of tenuous peace. You pick a single character and play as a Jedi Knight or a Sith Warrior, giving players the choice between the Galactic Empire or the Sith Empire. The combat is important, but the characters and the ability to make choices are, too. \n7. __*Wasteland*__: Originally released in 1988 by Electronic Arts, this is an open-world sci-fi RPG with re-releases and sequels. The original game is heavily based on tabletop role-playing games, and it keeps getting bigger and more ambitious with each subsequent version. \n8. __*The Witcher 3*__: Wild Hunt: The inspiration behind the popular Netflix series *The Witcher*, this open-world action RPG, which has a strong fanbase, tells the story of Geralt of Rivia. The game comes from Poland and started as a computer RPG. \n\nLike many other types of video game genres, role-playing games serve fans of all types. From gamers who like combat to those more interested in worldbuilding, there is an RPG out there.\nGet the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com/) for exclusive access to video lessons taught by the world’s best, including Will Wright, Paul Krugman, Stephen Curry, Annie Leibovitz, and more.\nRole-playing video games immerse you in the worlds of characters, giving you a first-person look at their experiences.