Talk:Generic role-playing game system

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I made a few changes to the top sentence. It's now two sentences.

Highlighting conventions??


Merge from Generic Systems and Multi-genre role-playing game[edit]

Generic Systems is a well written article that seems to cover exactly the grounds of this article. I think Generic role-playing game system is a better name (since it has "role-playing game" in it, which I think is important), but both articles say good things. I propose to merge the first into this second. GRuban 17:30, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

Multi-genre role-playing game is a 1-paragraph stub that also seems to try to cover this ground. Now, technically, a game can be multi-genre without being completely generic (Worlds of Wonder is a case in point: covers 3 genres, but not absolutely all genres), but I don't see that paragraph as making that fine distinction. GRuban 18:29, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

  • This is a good merge idea. These articles are all trying to cover basically the same ground. The Bearded One 17:50, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm kind of reluctant, for one simple reason: this seems a much poorer article than the former and the two contradict each other on several points. It might better for both articles to be discarded and a new article written on the subject.Michael Hopcroft 05:37, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
    • We've had silence for a while, one support, and a ... "reluctant", so... :-} I'm taking the liberty of going ahead with the merges. Michael is quite right that the Generic Systems article is better, but I don't agree that they conflict. I think I can keep the substance of both, and have the sum be even better than the parts. The original text will be in the edit histories of each, of course, and if anyone really wants to rewrite the whole thing, of course, be bold! - GRuban 21:50, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

RPG Article[edit]

The RPG Article lead box was removed from this article on 10 May 2006. May I ask why? While this is not one of the RPG articles listed in the box, does that invalidate it as a candidate for the inclusion of the box? The Bearded One 19:19, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Pretty much, yes. It's a template for navigation among the articles listed on it. Percy Snoodle 14:29, 25 June 2006 (UTC)


I must dispute the term "Generic" role playing system. Although GURPS and simialar game systems claim to be generic, they are in fact Proprietary and can only used in game publications under licence. I think this article is misleading and needs to be rewritten. --Gavin Collins (talk) 11:33, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

There are several meanings of generic, and non-proprietary isn't the one used in the term "generic role-playing game". Rather, it means that the game isn't tied to a specific genre. This usage comes from GURPS. I don't think your mistake is a common one; as the financial sense of "generic" would probably occur first only to those with a financial or pharmaceutical background, and since the lead section explains what it does mean quite clearly I don't think any change is needed. Percy Snoodle (talk) 11:40, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
This is the term that's used in this hobby to refer to this type of game. The article is not misleading and does not need to be rewritten. Rray (talk) 13:41, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
For that matter, you can also use many (if not most or all) of these systems in games of your own in any setting you like without needing a supplement specifically for it. I've run games set in Iain M Banks's Culture setting using GURPS and Elizabeth Moon's Familias Regnant setting using Silhouette. I didn't do anything strange, much less illegal, in doing so. SamBC(talk) 19:31, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Is Generic an appropriate term for a role-playing game system that is licenced?[edit]

The opening sentence of this article says:

"A generic role-playing game system or universal role-playing game system is a role-playing game system designed to be independent of setting and genre. Its rules should, in theory, work the same way for any setting, world, environment, or genre that one would want to play".

The term Generic is used in many ways, and in this article it is being used to describe a role-playing game system that can be used in different genre's of role playing game such that the system is "setting-independent".

However, this is usage is one that is promoted by the licence holder's of these systems themselves and is misleading. For example, the publishers of GURPS (Generic Universal Role-Playing System) are actually the licence holders of that system, i.e. the game system is Proprietary in nature and is only "setting-independent" for its own publications, or publications that use this system under licence. In this instance, the word "Generic" is being used in a promotional way, in the same way that companies like Standard Oil, Universal Pictures use the word standard or universal to imply that their products have multiple uses or are widely distributed.

To make this clear, this article should be moved from Generic role-playing game system to either Proprietary role-playing game system or Multi-genre role-playing game.--Gavin Collins (talk) 09:13, 26 February 2008 (UTC)

You misunderstand. Generic in the context of RPGs means that which this article refers to. Yes, the first such game was GURPS, but the term isn't used to promote GURPS, it's used to describe the genre. The fact that Gavin Collins doesn't understand role-playing games doesn't mean that the article shouldn't take its title from the name of its topic. Percy Snoodle (talk) 09:59, 26 February 2008 (UTC)
"Generic in the context of RPGs means that which this article refers to". What does that mean exactly? Does that mean that game systems are non-proprietary? GURPS is only one example of a "Generic" role-playing system, but I understand that there is nothing generic about it at all except the name: if you don't have permission of the publisher to use the system, you cannot use it to publish a game in any genre or setting - see this post for an example[1]. What evidence to you have that it or the other game systems are non-proprietary? --Gavin Collins (talk) 10:54, 26 February 2008 (UTC)
  • You don't see that it's generic, because you're using generic in a very narrow and here inapplicable sense, to mean the opposite of "proprietary". I don't need to show that any game systems are non-proprietary, as that's a completely irrelevant issue. As long as you're using the word "proprietary", you're only demonstrating that you don't understand the topic. Games which aren't tied to a specific fictional setting are called "generic", and that's why this article bears that name. You'll have to accept that, just as I've had to learn to accept the name of the article about designer board and card games. Percy Snoodle (talk) 11:05, 26 February 2008 (UTC)
  • "Generic" is what the industry as a whole uses, your misunderstanding of the term will not change that. It refers to the setting, not the rules. It should remain as is. Web Warlock (talk) 12:57, 26 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Most words have multiple meanings, many times dependent on context. "Generic" in this context is the opposite of "specific", not the opposite of "proprietary". (Please see the helpful Wiktionary link above.) Generic game systems are not tied to a specific genre. Some generic systems are also proprietary, but some are not. -- ArglebargleIV (talk) 13:07, 26 February 2008 (UTC)
  • "Generic" is the word used in the industry to refer to this type of game. To call these types of games something else because User:Gavin.collins doesn't understand the use of the term "generic" in this context would be original research.
To use Gavin's examples, this would mean that we should change the names of the articles for Standard Oil and Universal Pictures to Proprietary Oil and Multi-genre Pictures.
Also, User:Gavin.collins' note here: Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Role-playing_games#Generic_role-playing_game_system seems to indicate that he put this forward for RFC because he either dislikes me or thinks my input automatically makes him right. What a poor reason for an RFC. Rray (talk) 13:08, 26 February 2008 (UTC)
  • One more voice agreeing with everyone and their brother. "Generic" in this case means "non-specific", not "non-proprietary". You'll notice in the Wictionary definition, that is the more popular definition of the word. --GRuban (talk) 05:58, 28 February 2008 (UTC)
  • There is room for confusion for someone not familiar with the RPG industry standard; to that extent, I agree with GC. Aren't we obliged to take account of a broader constituency? Trekphiler (talk) 06:43, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
    • The dictionary definitions suggest that there's a broad usage of "generic" to mean non-specific as well as non-proprietary. The context certainly makes it clear which meaning is meant. SamBC(talk) 10:19, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Generic does indeed have a wider meaning, but it is broader that this. It can mean non-specific, as well as non-proprietary and non-branded. However, Generic role playing systems are both proprietary (subject to the contract law relating to licencing) and branded (subject to the copyright law in terms of their name or trademark), so from a global perspective, the promotional name "Generic role-playing system" conflicts of their real-world legal status.--Gavin Collins (talk) 20:34, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
    • The first meaning in both " unabridged" and American Heritage Dictionary are "of, applicable to, or referring to all the members of a genus, class, group, or kind; general." and "Relating to or descriptive of an entire group or class; general. See Synonyms at general." An online etymology reference states that the use meaning "general" dates from the 17th century, which the sense of "non-proprietary" is from the 70s. The terms used in the gaming industry for these games, by their publishers and everyone else, is "generic". It would be wrong of wikipedia to not use the same terms as the industry. Do you need any more arguments? SamBC(talk) 20:51, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
It doesn't matter what their legal status is. Generic and proprietary peacefully co-exist here. Yes, they're proprietary because there's copyrights, etc, but they're generic as they are "general" as described previously. This is the terminology that is used in the industry, in reviews about these systems, and so forth. Using something else is a blatant case of original research on our part. If you can provide specific references that dispute the usage of this terminology in the context of these role-playing game systems then please do so. --Craw-daddy | T | 21:04, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
      • Sorry, Gavin. Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English) is pretty clear: "Use the most commonly used English version of the name of the subject as the title of the article". If the majority of the sources we have referring to the subject use the potentially ambiguous word "Generic", we should too. We don't make the world, we just write about it. --GRuban (talk) 21:09, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
  • I am not sure I agree. The term is commonly used in the gameing industry, but outside of that, I would say it is a neologism used by the promoters of these games. If you have a sources to support when or who first coined the term, do add them to the article, as this would help clarify this point. --Gavin Collins (talk) 22:43, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
    • Use of the term "generic" to mean "non-specific" is standard usage and doesn't require a source. "Generic" certainly isn't a neologism. Using some other phrase than one is commonly used in the industry to describe this type of game would not only be silly, it would be original research. We use the commonly used words to describe the subjects of articles, and no reasonable justification has been given here to do otherwise.
SamBC explained all of this clearly in the discussion above already. Asking for a source after that detailed and reasonable explanation seems contrary to a collaborative environment. Rray (talk) 00:01, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Actually, Gavin is asking for a source for his side of the argument. -- ArglebargleIV (talk) 02:52, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Taking a quick look at Generic we have:
generic mood, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
generic antecedents, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Generic role-playing game system, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Generic drug, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Generic function, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Generic programming, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
GENERIC, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Generic filter, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Generic point, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Generic property, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Generic brand, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
GENERIC formalism, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Genericized trademark, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Porter generic strategies, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Semi-generic, which is not the opposite of proprietary.
Generic Flipper, which is not the opposite of proprietary.

I also note Gavin hasn't tagged any of those other articles as disputed even though they don't match his definition of generic, either. Edward321 (talk) 04:45, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

  • Contrary to what Edward321 is suggesting, I am not simply aserting that generic is the opposite of proprietary. What I am saying is that the definition that "a generic role-playing game system or universal role-playing game system is a role-playing game system designed to be independent of setting and genre" is neither logical nor supported by any sources that do not explicitly reach the same conclusion because:
  1. these Role-playing game systems are a class of products that are not generic from a legal standpoint because you have to obtain a licence to use them (i.e. systems are proprietary);
  2. they are not generic from a marketing perspective, because they are branded (e.g. Unisystem, GURPS, FUDGE), as opposed to being marketed under a Generic brand;
  3. there is evidence to suggest that the term "generic role-playing game" has a wider meaning than is acknowledged in this article, as other sources testify (see page 2).
I do acknowledge that generic may be used within the industry as having a different meaning, possibly as a result of a corruption of the phrase "genre-genric role-playing game" being shortened to "generic role-playing game". Although this hypothesis is speculation, the origin of industry use (who actually used the term and why) is not evidenced in this article, and there is no evidence that the current usage in not a neologism. I therefore propose renaming the Multi-genre role-playing game, on the grounds that that "a Multi-genre is a role-playing game system designed to be independent of setting and genre" is not only logical statement, but also does not conflict with the wider usage of the word generic outside of the industry.--Gavin Collins (talk) 10:55, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Generic is the term that has been used in the industry as a whole since the late 70s, just because YOU don't like it doesn't mean it needs to be changed. A multi-genre game is something else, like Rifts (role-playing game), which is a sub-set of Generic. Web Warlock (talk) 11:17, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
You can propose all you like, but others (with more knowledge of the subject matter) do not agree with your reasoning, and I say with a fair degree of confidence that such as rename would not gain consensus. Now, this is the article talk page, so feel free to ask a (one) broader forum, such as village pump or something. You're the one asking for a change, so it's incumbent on you to demonstrate that broader opinion (on wikipedia) supports you where consensus here really doesn't. SamBC(talk) 11:31, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Here's two points I've made before; Gavin, please address each of them separately and directly, and then we might be able to actually reason:
  1. The use of "generic" to mean "non-specific" is attested since the 17th century and accepted by dictionaries now, often before any other meaning; the use to mean "non-proprietary" is attested since the late 70s. SamBC(talk) 11:47, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
  2. If it's legally misleading, why hasn't Steve Jackson Games gotten in trouble for GURPS? Tell you what, why don't you file a complaint with your country's relevant trading standards body? SamBC(talk) 11:47, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Oh, and regarding the paper you link to: that's a different sort of "game" entirely, and it doesn't actually talk about generic role-playing games, it just happens to mention that phrase. It appears to be talking about "game" in the sense of simulation and planning, not recreation. How many instances of the phrase did you have to trawl through to get to one that isn't used the way we're using it here? And, for that matter, it isn't actually that different from what we're talking about ere; it's talking about a role-playing game generic enough to handle a variety of situations, which is more the same thing than I think you realise. SamBC(talk) 14:11, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Neat paper, Gavin - I missed that you'd found that one. :) I read it a while back, and thought that it was an excellent paper. However, I agree with SamBC - the authors defined "generic role-playing game" as "a widely applicable game generator". In other words, a role-playing game that can be used to create games in a number of different gaming scenarios. This seems entirely in keeping with (although a tad broader than) the definition offered in the article. It may be of interest to roleplayers here that the models were applied to both a game set in the crusades and a game set in modern South-east Asia, which neatly covers two of the roleplaying genres (although I was rather taken by the use of the Turing test for model evaluation). - Bilby (talk) 14:32, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

And you can also find comments like these online... --Craw-daddy | T | 15:11, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Look, it's clear that the consensus is in favor of leaving the name as it is, so unless someone wants to start an RFC (which I think would be a huge waste of time), why don't we just consider the matter closed and move on? -Chunky Rice (talk) 16:51, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

I am not questioning consensus, I am questiong the provenance of the term. There are no sources cited in this article to indicate where or by whom the term Generic role-playing game system comes from. It seems to me the discussion is boiling down to two theories:
  1. The Creationist View that the term was created by the industry, and therefore no evidence is required to explain its origins, meaning or application to the role-playing systems it describes. Since industry created the term, the term is the word, and the word shall not be brought into question was created by the industry;
  2. The Evolutionist Theory who take the view that the term originated from someone, somewhere at sometime possibly for a reason (such as to promote a game), and that there may be evidence left behind by the creator(s) of the term (such as a press release, or magazine review).
There is a sort of a standoff here as neither party has sources to provide any evidence, one way or another. It will be interesting to see what source could be found on this topic, one way or another. --Gavin Collins (talk) 21:05, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, it will be interesting. So why not help everyone out (and the encyclopedia) and attempt to find some of these sources instead of endlessly discussing it, thereby avoiding speculation, "hypothesizing", and original research by any and all parties involved? --Craw-daddy | T | 00:14, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
Gavin, there is no standoff, everyone else disagrees with you. Drop it. Web Warlock (talk) 21:14, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm confused. Are you disputing that this term is used as described or not? If you are disputing it, then origins aside, there are numerous examples of use consistent with the article. If you aren't disputing it, then there's nothing to discuss. A section on the origin of the term would be welcome, but that's immaterial to the title of the article. -Chunky Rice (talk) 21:21, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
  • The article states that "The term "generic" has been used since the earliest days of gaming to describe a system that can be used for any type or style of game" but the sources cited in the article do not explicitly reach the same conclusion.--Gavin Collins (talk) 08:45, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Because I am not done yet. Why don't you actually try doing some research instead of complaining all the time about other people efforts. Your incivility has gotten beyond the point of toleration. Web Warlock (talk) 10:32, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
  • You are going to have to go beyond the internet now then. Go to the library, that's what I have been doing. Web Warlock (talk) 11:35, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

Is Generic an appropriate term for a role-playing game system that is licenced?[edit]

Is "Generic" an appropriate term for a role-playing game system that is licenced, as described in the above section? BOZ (talk) 17:44, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

Hmm, I should have given this a different header than the previous section. :) BOZ (talk) 17:49, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
Hey BOZ, if you check out the history of this page, you'll see that there has already been one RfC on this already. That's the reason for the first section having this same title. I don't really think that another RfC is warranted. But the answer to your question is "yes, I think generic is appropriate" (provided, of course, it is a generic system). I don't think there is any conflict in an RPG being both "generic" and "proprietary" (such as is the case with, say, the Hero system, BRP, which has been licensed, or something like Unisystem which, as I understand it, is completely "in-house" in the sense that it's only been used for games published by Eden Studios, Inc.). --Craw-daddy | T | 00:30, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
Unisystem is a licensed system. Only CJ Carella owns it, Eden publishes unde an exclusive license, other companies have published undera sub-license (for example Misfit Studios). More refs for "generic" are coming. Web Warlock (talk) 00:34, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
Ah, my bad. Yeah, now that you reminded me I remember something to this effect.  :) Thanks. --Craw-daddy | T | 00:35, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
No worries. Not that it is even THAT important to this discussion save that the varieties of games are far more complex than say your "average" person understands. Web Warlock (talk) 00:37, 25 April 2008 (UTC)
D'oh! I had no idea, because the lightbulb thingy was gone. :) BOZ (talk) 12:25, 25 April 2008 (UTC)