No, not Rocket Propelled Grenades, Role-Playing Games!
That's right this is another gaming post that generally get such a small amount of attention here that I rarely bother, but for the past three days this has basically been the only thing occupying my mind so I'm going to subject you to it if only to get some closure on the matter.
I am a gamer who suckled on the teat of the good old fashoned pen and paper RPG's and so when I play computer games I find them limiting in so many ways when compared to the simplistic joy of declairing your actions to another human being who can interpret (or misinterpret) your actions and respond as only a human can. P&P RP'ing is not limited to computer code or disc size, or artificial anything, because it has the natural element of pitting one intellect against another and then at times working together to achive something sublime.
The resolution system of the game plays a part in this as well, if a game maintains consistancy in how it resolves uncertainty and it's rules encompass just about any action that one can concieve of, from doing a suplex on your opponent, to impressing the belle of the ball with your graceful dancing skills, if a system works well than any action a person could concievably take is represented with ease and little interpretation then it gets my stamp as a good game. This particular element of an RPG we call gameplay, and in both video games and pen and paper RPG's it makes or breaks the title, good gameplay is fluid and graceful and examples of it in the video game world are in games like Assassin's Creed, where the character interacts with his environment with grace, being able to move all throughout a world so fluidly that it is very close to simulating life. However gameplay is not the only important thing to consider with RPG's.
The setting of an RPG is the second most pivotal thing in my opinion, I'm a setting fanatic as Shush will quickly tell you. For me the joy in role-playing comes from exploring new things and basking in the little details. After that I move on to conquering and seeing if I can make the setting work for me. Assassin's Creed also has a great setting, as do all of the Elder Scrolls games, Uncharted – Drakes Fortune, Exalted, and Star Wars.
Now wait, I just mentioned Star Wars, which isn't a game! Actually it is, many times over in fact, Star Wars was a Pen and Paper RPG published by West End games before Wizards of the Coast got their grubby corporate paws on it and dipped it in the vat of slime that is D20. The setting has also spawned fantastic video game titles such as Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars Battlefront, Jedi Knight, and the upcoming Force Unleashed, and nearly all of these titles have been spectacularly popular because Star Wars is a fantastic setting, it works is fun and has flavor. Even the recent movies with their shitty acting, and poor writing couldn't overshadow the fact that the Star Wars setting is the Middle Earth of the Sci Fi genre.
Setting gives you something to do in an RPG, good ones are immersive and filled with possibility with plenty of challenge woven in to keep characters on their toes, and without it a game quickly stagnates or becomes arbitrary, neither is a good thing.