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deltaKshatriya

Why Are There Fewer Sci-Fi RPGs Than Fantasy Ones?

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I started reading Altered Carbon recently and started to get pumped for Cyberpunk 2077. I got a little curious and started hunting around for sci-fi RPGs to play through because I was feeling in the mood for something along those lines.  It only then occurred to me that there aren't nearly as many sci-fi RPG games as there are fantasy ones (especially in the AAA space). I should also clarify that I'm not counting games like Fallout for this, since I'm not looking into post-apocalyptic survival games for the purposes of this line of thought. 

Maybe my perception is off, but why is it that there are a larger number of fantasy RPGs than Sci-Fi?

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Posted (edited)

Consumer studies showed that Sci-Fi is considered "Heavy", "Uncomfterble" and "Nerdy", while only hardcore fantasies are considered the same. After interviewing hundreds of people, it was discovered that the leading cause why Sci-Fi felt "Heavy" and why most fantasy don't, is because of the jargon used by Sci-Fi writers.

So in all it can be boiled down to: Sci-Fi stories use words that have actual meaning and if you used it wrong, the nerds will point out just how wrong you are. So the fans?

 

This was later elaborated on by another study that used the book Red Rising -That I definitely recommend if you are getting into sci-fi- the story is heavy based on roman stories and culture.

What was discovered was that the Sci-Fi sounding words had as little retention as the Latin used in the story. The study concluded that Sci-Fi words sounds like greek to consumers.

More modern studies on Sci-Fi has shown spikes with Futurama and Rick and Morty. Some believe it is the way these stories make fun of the whole Sci-Fi jargon and it's comedy style that makes it easy to approach.

"Morty you can't just add a sci-fi word to a car word and hope it means something. Huh. Looks like something is wrong with the microverse battery." -Rick 

 

Most fantasy stories don't suffer from the same problem, there is no knowledge you need to have even before you get started.

Edited by Scouting Ninja

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Everything Scouting Ninja said makes sense. I've tried writing some SciFi stuff myself and the anxiety behind questions like: 

"Can call this a "Quantum" something?" 

"Does it make more sense for a laser gun to shoot with ions or neutrons?"

"How far can this spaceship reasonably fly at light speed?"

Honestly, I started to have more fun with it once I stopped caring as much about the technicalities and started focusing on the story in general. I can always fix the details while editing.

On the other hand, with fantasy RPGs you don't need to worry about any of that. Your bow can shoot arrows made from mystical elven flowers that turn them into literal rays of light and no one questions it. "Oh that's how that works in this world? Okay cool." 

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23 hours ago, Scouting Ninja said:

Consumer studies showed that Sci-Fi is considered "Heavy", "Uncomfterble" and "Nerdy", while only hardcore fantasies are considered the same. After interviewing hundreds of people, it was discovered that the leading cause why Sci-Fi felt "Heavy" and why most fantasy don't, is because of the jargon used by Sci-Fi writers.

Really? Certainly one would think that high fantasy can be just as nerdy/geeky. Fantasy itself is a giant genre though, so I guess I can see this.

21 hours ago, Applixir Kyle said:

On the other hand, with fantasy RPGs you don't need to worry about any of that. Your bow can shoot arrows made from mystical elven flowers that turn them into literal rays of light and no one questions it. "Oh that's how that works in this world? Okay cool." 

But arguably the best fantasy settings (IMO at least) are the ones that have strong internal logic. Sure sci-fi generally has to rely on real world logic, but even fantasy does need rules to abide by.

Though perhaps I'm wrong. 

Are there no lite-sci-fi genres like in fantasy? Certainly dystopia falls into that, right?

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On 8/7/2018 at 9:11 AM, deltaKshatriya said:

It only then occurred to me that there aren't nearly as many sci-fi RPG games as there are fantasy ones (especially in the AAA space).

I'm not sure this is actually the case. There are a *lot* of sci-fi RPGs out there, but I think your next point is important.

On 8/7/2018 at 9:11 AM, deltaKshatriya said:

I should also clarify that I'm not counting games like Fallout for this, since I'm not looking into post-apocalyptic survival games for the purposes of this line of thought.

Sci-fi covers a lot of ground. RPG also covers a lot of ground. You are arbitrarily cutting out a pretty big chunk of both with this qualification, and I'm wondering what else is being excluded subconsciously?

The are plenty of AAA titles that pretty clearly qualify for the title "sci-fi RPG": the Bioware games (KOTOR, Mass Effect), Borderlands, XCOM, Deus X, Destiny, and so on.

But there are a lot that are more subjective. Would we count Bioshock? What about Eve online? Beyond Good and Evil? Spore? Dead Space? Transistor? Final Fantasy?

All of the above have the RPG elements, all of them have a sci-fi theme. But I'm not sure they'd all land on a list of "sci-fi RPGs"...

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2 hours ago, swiftcoder said:
On 8/7/2018 at 9:11 AM, deltaKshatriya said:

It only then occurred to me that there aren't nearly as many sci-fi RPG games as there are fantasy ones (especially in the AAA space).

I'm not sure this is actually the case. There are a *lot* of sci-fi RPGs out there, but I think your next point is important.

On 8/7/2018 at 9:11 AM, deltaKshatriya said:

I should also clarify that I'm not counting games like Fallout for this, since I'm not looking into post-apocalyptic survival games for the purposes of this line of thought.

Sci-fi covers a lot of ground. RPG also covers a lot of ground. You are arbitrarily cutting out a pretty big chunk of both with this qualification, and I'm wondering what else is being excluded subconsciously?

The are plenty of AAA titles that pretty clearly qualify for the title "sci-fi RPG": the Bioware games (KOTOR, Mass Effect), Borderlands, XCOM, Deus X, Destiny, and so on.

But there are a lot that are more subjective. Would we count Bioshock? What about Eve online? Beyond Good and Evil? Spore? Dead Space? Transistor? Final Fantasy?

All of the above have the RPG elements, all of them have a sci-fi theme. But I'm not sure they'd all land on a list of "sci-fi RPGs"...

Maybe I should clarify: there seem to be more high fantasy RPGs than hard sci-fi ones (kind of like the sci-fi equivalent of high fantasy in the sense that we've got an immersive world that is entirely sci-fi). Examples of the latter would be Mass Effect, Deus Ex, and KOTOR. Upcoming games would include Cyberpunk 2077.

I should add it's difficult to define this, since there's a lot of ground that this can cover. But by RPG I mean something that falls into the same class as Skyrim, or KOTOR.

I'm not sure specifically why I get this impression, but I've always felt that the sci-fi RPGs have always numbered less than fantasy ones.

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5 hours ago, deltaKshatriya said:

Really? Certainly one would think that high fantasy can be just as nerdy/geeky. Fantasy itself is a giant genre though, so I guess I can see this.

You are absolutely correct. There is actually a whole High Fantasy list that is considered just as geeky as Sci-Fi. It two suffers from the same fate as Sci-Fi.

Fantasy does a little bit better because most people know what a Dwarf, Elf and Orc is. However games like Age Of Wonders that is heavy on the fantasy lore, suffers as much as any Sci-Fi game to get new players interested.

 

If you search: "Sci-Fi Space Opera computer games" you will find a lot of Sci-Fi RPG games, some heavy focused on space battles. Star Ocean and Final Fantasy are more Sci-Fantasy than Sci-Fiction; if that is what type you are looking for.

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4 hours ago, deltaKshatriya said:

hard sci-fi ones (kind of like the sci-fi equivalent of high fantasy in the sense that we've got an immersive world that is entirely sci-fi).

Note that the accepted definition of "hard scifi" deals almost exclusively with scientific accuracy, which I don't think is quite what you are going for here.

4 hours ago, deltaKshatriya said:

But by RPG I mean something that falls into the same class as Skyrim, or KOTOR.

Ok, yeah, there are definitely more high fantasy Western CRPGs than sci-fi. I think that's sort of a historical side-effect of everyone in that space perpetually cloning variations on Dungeons and Dragons / Tolkien.

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