A role-playing game is a game in which one or more players take on an imagined persona.
Tabletop Role Playing Games
These are traditional RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons and includes storytelling games like Vampire: The Requiem where you take on the role of a character. They are played face-to-face using pen, paper, dice, and sometimes miniature figures.
Video Role Playing Games
A genre of gaming that generally puts you in direct control of a character, or party of characters, abilities, items, skills, and other attributes. The RPG is notorious for stories of epic proportions and long length.
As internet connections proved more popular in the home, and the speed of connections grew to a point where playing games over the internet was possible, a new brand of role-playing-games sprung up: the MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online RPG. In an MMORPG, each player has a customized avatar that shares the same game world with other characters and work together to accomplish goals and strengthen their characters, much like in a single-player RPG.
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