When I was much younger than I am now, I used to really enjoy RPGs. Things I remember liking about them include:
- beating the challenges presented by combat encounters;
- creative problem-solving and investigative work in non-combat situations;
- sense of progression as my character levels up and becomes more powerful;
- (as a secondary consideration) witnessing the story-telling and the world-building done by the GM, and possibly doing some of that myself at my own pace.
At the same time, I specifically did not (and do not now) enjoy role-playing and (for lack of a better term) being charismatic. I prefer to have conversations out-of-character, at least at my end (e.g. I’d prefer to say "I greet the NPC" as opposed to saying "I turn to NPC and say ‘Hello!’"; I don’t have a strong preference as to whether GM replies "The NPC greets you back" or "The NPC says ‘Hello, traveller!’".). I like the fact that I can in principle have an elaborate back-story, but it’s important to me that I’m allowed to keep it to a bare minimum ("I was orphaned when I was a child, a wizard took me in as his apprentice, now I’m ready to go adventuring."). I get mildly uncomfortable when GM asks me to describe in detail what my outfit looks like or how I strike the finishing blow in a combat situation, especially when this has no effect on the mechanics of the game.
I’ve recently been trying to get back into RPGs, and in several unrelated instances in a row I encountered people who emphasise the role-playing/charismatic aspects of the game over the parts that I personally enjoy, and haven’t yet had much luck with finding like-minded people. Since my experience with RPGs is limited and mostly set far in the past, this makes me question: Is my approach to RPGs even valid?
(In some basic sense, I’m aware that my preferences are obviously valid, in the sense that anything is valid if everyone involved is having fun. An analogy that comes to mind: There is nothing wrong with liking fast-food more than French cuisine, just like there is nothing wrong with liking Indian cuisine more than French cuisine. However, if I expressed these two preferences, I would expect rather different responses. I’m basically asking whether in this analogy I’m a fast-food enthusiast or an Indian food enthusiast.)
Added in an attempt to clarify/narrow down the question: Does there exist a consensus in the RPG community that says that role-playing heavy RPG is, in some sense, superior to RPG that does not include much role-playing? Does there exist a consensus saying the opposite (i.e. that both approaches are valid)? Or is there no consensus at all?
P.S. Just to pre-empt the obvious comment: Yes, I am quite aware that "RP" in RPG stands for "role-playing" 😉