I was looking at the reviews and stuff in college on Tuesday morning when they all hit, seeing some video footage the guy on the computer beside me asked what it was, obviously I said it was this new South Park game, he said yeah but what is it and I said it was an RPG, to my complete shock his response was "What's an RPG?" A 21 year old dude, same as myself, who I kind of like and doesn't seem disconnected from pop culture or anything, and he didn't know what an RPG was. I guess he's not really into games but COME ON!
I'd hardly say the term 'RPG' was in the pop culture vernacular. And I doubt even most of the average users who CoD every year know what an 'FPS' is, they just know its the shooty thing that they like.
I feel this is actually going to be an issue with most people picking up South Park though, they'll see the South Park name and go 'Ah yeah, I like that' and when they get into it will be like, 'Whats this combat? This is weird.' My friend loves South Park and the closest he's come to an RPG is Zelda so him playing this is actually quite different to what he's used to, even if it does seem like a pretty simple Mario RPG style game.
This is a matter of knowledge, not intellect. If he's 21 and can't figure out how many magazines he will get this year with his subscription that is a weekly issue, that would be weird. But with knowledge the thing is, you need to be told in one way or another. Whether that is reading it or hearing it from someone else. If he hasn't been told, he doesn't know. You say he didn't know, therefor he hasn't been told yet. It's really that simple.
'RPG' is a popular term in gaming only since the last generation believe it or not. And most people play games, it really hasn't hit the mainstream as much as you think. The most popular games are still the pre-installed card games on Windows, mobile games, The Sims and Call of Duty. I dare bet there are some people who won't even know all those. Let alone more specific stuff like RPG's. It's not that weird that he doesn't know.
I wouldn't expect everyone to know what an RPG is. I know shit about sports, don't know what 99% of the terms are in football or baseball. Know nothing of players and teams. And you hear about sports all the time on the internet, TV, and just being around people. And yet I've absorbed none of it. If it's something you're not particularly interested in, you simply don't pay attention to it or retain it.
You'd think rocket-propelled grenades would be pretty common knowledge.
Most people I know think of that when they hear the term, not role playing game. I always have to elaborate on the term when I am describing a game to a non gamer(ugh that term) friend.
I played plenty of RPGs as a kid, especially on the GBC and GBA. Games being Pokemon, Golden Sun, Final Fantasy, etc. I didn't find out the term RPG until a friend introduced me to Kingdom Hearts a year after it came out. He said "You should try out this game dude, it's an action RPG based around Disney characters and those JRPGs you play." As soon as he said RPG, I immediately thought rocket-propelled grenade, since I played a few shooters and Metal Gear too, then he said JRPG, my mind just melted. I was 15 at the time. Even after that, I still didn't totally understand what exactly an RPG was even though I have played many. I just stuck with the term 'video game.' Never really thought about genres even. I of course finally understand them and their many types, being 25 now. So it's perfectly natural. Someone next to me in class right now recognized me playing Crazy Taxi on my iPhone, saying he used to play at his cousins all the time. I immediately thought he was a fellow gamer but as our conversation went on, I found out he wasn't due to the fact that I was basically just rambling to him and he had no idea what I was talking about.
Also, look at the fact that RPG elements are pretty much put into everything now, and there are so many types of RPGs that it's not really it's own genre anymore. Just look at JRPG now, what the heck are those supposed to be anymore? They go every which way that they've lost that genres meaning.
That is a bit strange but not shocking by any means. It is one of the biggest genres of video game so even people lightly into games know what it is. Some people just dont pick up on things like you thing they should. Just politely inform him and tell him about some of the best games in the genre to try to get his interest.
@pinner458: Offsides in soccer is actually pretty simple to explain and a common occurrence over the course of a game, while the infield fly rule is a bit complex and pertains to a very specific situation that doesn't always happen. It's more comparable to en passant in chess, or a rouge in Canadian football.
lol you think that's bad, I met a guy once who out of the blue just asked me if I ever played 'that zelda game on nintendo'. I was like yeah I played the hell out of ocarina of time when I was little. Then I start talking about how I always thought it was weird that the nintendo 64 controller had 3 prongs, so every now and then you had to switch your hand. He kept saying "huh", and "what". Long story short HE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THAT THE NINTENDO 64 CONTROLLER HAS THREE PRONGS TO HOLD ON TO!!!
So, what is an RPG? I used to believe that a good way of defining an RPG was games that have some kind of statistical character progression. That just doesn't seem to make sense anymore though, 'RPG elements' have bled into so many different types of games. Also, the term has been thrown around all over the place - to the point where I'm sure that anything but Pong could be considered an RPG by someone...
No offense, but you're just out of touch with people who don't play games, which is many people. Even my friends who play Gran Turismo or Madden or GTA every couple months don't know what things like "RPG" or "RTS" mean. Usually I'll say, "well, do you know what an RPG is," and usually the answer is silence... meaning "no."
I have one friend who calls them "sword games."
@pinner458: It is pretty common. People even believe that Mass Effect is a RPG while in reality it is a shooter with RPG elements.
Please don't turn this into a video game genre definition debate, they're so nebulous anyway that you could classify most games as five or six different genres. I don't think someone calling Mass Effect an rpg is outlandish, and if you consider the actual meaning of the term, role playing game, it fits the definition of playing a role far more than many RPGs, even with its more limited inventory and customization systems.