Saw some discussion elsewhere about the RPG classification post and thought I’d clear up some things.
First: There’s a difference in intent between that post and the Whatchamacallit Games post. In the latter, I’m mostly mocking Robin Laws for creating a somewhat useless name for D&D-esque games. In the former, though, I’m making my own useless names, but for a good cause.
Second: That "cause " is “thinking about what the major differences in RPG tastes are”. It’s not about “the fine points of classification”, as Robert Conley put it, but the opposite: figuring out which distinctions can be ignored. In my experience, most people have preference for this mechanic or that bit of fluff and color, but aside from a minority of hyper-focused individuals, they will play anything that fits within a broad category of taste.
Distinctions between OD&D, Holmes Basic, B/X, BECM, AD&D 1e, and AD&D 2e, as well as various retroclones, are unnecessarily specific. Sure, we all have our favorites: In terms of fantasy adventure, I won’t run anything other than OD&D + house rules anymore, and won’t stray far from TSR-era D&D as a player, but practically, there’s no real difference between the CLEF games I will run and the CLEF games I won’t run, or the CLEAF games I will play and those I won’t.
Third: It’s not so much the classification system that matters as how we arrive at it. Thinking about the different kinds of focus in the previous post lead me to realize how few game focuses there really are. Almost all RPGs are Action, Exploration, or Investigation in focus, with a few being hybrids of two of those. Story Games are almost all Other, and I’d argue that what makes them feel like not-RPGs is that focus on the meta level instead of the immersion level.
I expect as many personal realizations from thinking about Structure and Setting as I did from Focus. There doesn’t seem to be more than two or three of either. And, although I suggested Normal, Speculative and Fantasy as broad settings based on actual divisions between people blogging or posting about RPGs, I’m thinking that those three have nothing really to do with realism, but something else I haven’t quite put into words yet.
And, besides those three points, I’m thinking about some sci-fi games I once mentioned I wanted to create, so some of this might help shape my ideas on those.
So expect to see some more useless ramblings on this in the future. It may actually lead somewhere.