When it comes to gaming, RPGs represent the pinnacle of storytelling with games like Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Mass Effect, Skyrim, and Earthbound. While many games from many different genres do indeed have compelling stories, storytelling, more than any other facet, is what RPGs are known for.
But despite this, RPGs always seem to tell the same basic narrative: a group of heroes comes together to “save the world” from a powerful villain. Sure, sometimes it’s a fantasy setting and sometimes it’s a sci-fi one, but the basic story is almost always the same. Why?
What seems most likely is that this story framework allows for a fighting system, be that a shooting system like Mass Effect or a turn-based system like in most JRPGs.
But why must RPGs be centered around fighting? Is it not possible to have fun in an RPG without the mass murder of woodland creatures?
Why not have an RPG based around two people falling in love over the course of their lives? Or why not have an RPG about a group of friends traversing a planet to escape it, as the world itself dies around them.
Put another way, do RPGs need a fighting system to be RPGs? The answer is simply “no.” And as if to prove this, RPGs are slowly but surely breaking out of this narrow combat-necessary mindset.
For years dedicated gamers playing RPGs have taken up the challenge to play them without fighting—though this proves quite difficult. In World of Warcraft more than one character has reached the level cap without ever killing a single creature while in Skyrim, one pacifist player has even reached level 35.