Understanding What Does RPG Mean in Gaming: A Comprehensive Guide

Table of Contents


In the modern era of video game culture, it is crucial to get familiar with gaming terminology, and one term stands out in prominence – RPG or Role-Playing Games. It’s a genre that finds its roots in traditional tabletop games and has made a significant transition into the digital platform. With this comprehensive guide, you’ll grasp what does RPG mean in gaming, its history, types, character progressions, settings, and some notable RPG series. Understanding what RPG is can deeply enrich a gamer’s appreciation for the genre and enhance the gaming experience notably.

What is RPG?

RPG in gaming stands for Role-Playing Games. It’s a genre where players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting, and take control of their actions in the game’s narrative. Role-playing games are distinguished by the emphasis they place on character development and complex storytelling. They usually include systems for character advancement, numerous items and equipment to find or earn, and expansive worlds for players to explore.

History of RPG Games

Early RPG Games

The history of role-playing games began with pen-and-paper tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons. These games laid the groundwork for classic RPG mechanics such as turn-based combat, level progressions, and fantasy settings – elements that are still key to most RPGs today.

Console and PC Games

RPGs made the jump to digital platforms in the 1980s, with pioneering titles like Ultima and Final Fantasy on consoles, and Dungeon Master on PC. These games redefined the RPG genre by taking into account real-time combat strategies and exploration of expansive worlds.


The emergence of the internet led to the evolution of RPGs into Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). Here, huge numbers of players could interact and play together in a persistent virtual world, exemplified by games like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars.

Types of RPG Games

Single Player RPGs

In Single Player RPGs, one player experiences the game storyline and world on their own. They often emphasize rich narratives and complex character development.

Multiplayer RPGs

As the name suggests, Multiplayer RPGs offer a gameplay experience that can be shared with other players. From co-op missions to competitive player-vs-player combat, these games offer diverse engagement options.

Action RPGs

Action RPGs combine real-time action gameplay with RPG mechanics. They deliver fast-paced combat encounters and reward tactical reflexes and skill use.

Turn-based RPGs

Turn-based RPGs, similar to their tabletop predecessors, allow players to take turns making their moves, facilitating more strategic and thought-out gameplay.

Character Progression in RPG Games

Leveling Up

Most RPGs feature a leveling system whereby characters grow stronger as they gain experience points (XP) through quests and combat.

Character Customization

RPGs often grant players extensive control over their characters’ abilities, appearance, and even personality traits, allowing for both strategic diversity and personal expression.

Skill Trees and Attributes

In many RPGs, as characters level up, they gain points to invest in skill trees, which represent different areas of expertise and profoundly influence the character’s combat effectiveness and gameplay style.

RPG Game Settings

Fantasy RPGs

Fantasy RPGs like The Elder Scrolls or Dragon Age series are set in fantastical worlds filled with magic, mythical creatures, and medieval societies.

Post-Apocalyptic RPGs

Games like the Fallout series offer a dystopian, post-apocalyptic setting after a large-scale disaster.

Sci-Fi RPGs

Sci-Fi RPGs like Mass Effect plunge players into futuristic, interstellar scenarios rich in advanced technology and alien species.

Historical RPGs

Historical RPGs, such as Assassin’s Creed series, offer players the chance to experience different eras and events in history, often with a blend of factual and fictional elements.

Notable RPG Game Series

Final Fantasy

Synonymous with RPGs, Final Fantasy is an iconic series that has shaped the RPG genre with its epic narratives, intricate gameplay mechanics, and breathtaking visuals.

The Elder Scrolls

Famous for its immersive open-world settings, The Elder Scrolls series provides a deep level of world interaction and exploration seldom matched in RPGs.


Fallout series, known for its dark humor and bleak setting, offers players a detailed post-apocalyptic world and branching narrative paths based on player choice.

Mass Effect

Mass Effect series blends RPG mechanics with strategic combat, offering players space exploration, alien interactions, and deep branching storylines.


Unquestionably, RPG games have become a cornerstone of the video gaming industry. Providing players with immersive storylines, character development, and engaging gameplay mechanics, they have pushed the boundaries of gaming. Understanding what RPGs mean in gaming is not just about deciphering an acronym; it’s about appreciating the rich, immersive experiences that this genre has to offer both casual and avid gamers. Whether you’re delving into a fantastical world, post-apocalyptic wasteland, or in the expanse of space, RPGs grant players the chance to step into the shoes of their characters and ride along their journey.


What are some popular RPG games for beginners?

The Witcher 3 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim offer intuitive controls and captivating stories that make them excellent starting points for beginners.

What is an RPG game engine?

An RPG game engine is a software framework used specifically to create and develop role-playing games.

Are RPG games good for kids?

It depends on the game’s content, theme, and maturity rating. Some RPG games are kid-friendly, encouraging creativity, problem-solving, and strategic thinking.

Can RPG games be played on mobile?

Yes, numerous RPG games are available on mobile platforms, including classic and new titles.

What does JRPG stand for?

JRPG stands for Japanese Role-Playing Games, a subgenre of RPGs that originate from Japan. They are known for their detailed artwork, complex plotlines, and turn-based gameplay.