The division and current issues with the RPG genre

OK so a while back I watched two episodes of Extra Credits that were called Western & Japanese RPGs where they explained the differences between these two types of RPG stemming from the different cultural traits of American and Japanese culture respectively.

Then this week I read an article on Gaming as Women and something clicked in my head.

So here goes that something: The Extra Credits episodes talk about how it was the parallel development of the RPG genre in both the US and Japan that made the Japanese and Western RPGs so different in both narrative and game play and that these two types of RPG should be viewed as two separate genres. In the comments section of the above mentioned GaW article someone asked about a French tabletop game called Agone and why it failed to get a good enough market in the US. And my own conclusion from these two statements and several questions I already had in my head is that what most people call ,,Western” RPGs are in fact American RPG and that Europe has its own RPG narrative that is ready to start showing up in both video games and in the tabletop international community.

OK so the basic difference brought up in the Extra Credits episodes: the narrative structure of the RPG. The Japanese narrative focuses on picking a group of companions that will grow and develop trough the game and following and shaping their adventures. The American narrative focuses on crating your own character and guiding him/her and their companions trough their epic quest(s). The European narrative focuses on the exploration of the structure of the setting: its magic, social structure, justice and injustice, power and political intrigues, its various nations and the differences and similarities between them………; and does so by making the protagonist(s) people who are in the position to see all (or most of) the above mentioned characteristics of their world trough their work and/or goals and quests.

And sadly after two days of thinking of an example I can just toss out there for comparison that I am well versed in I came up with nothing. The only comparison I can even make is between an American RPG and an European one. And I have not played both of these so I could make a complete comparison between the two, but here is the best I can think of right now: Dragon Age (American) and The Witcher (European).

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About dmol8

I am a young Serbian gamer and a male (in that order), who lives in Belgrade with his brother and attends Belgrade university.
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