Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to the RPG Reload, the weekly feature where I sometimes have to throw dinner together from scraps of leftovers. While I had planned to do a developer interview this week, my day job has become rather busy all of a sudden. Because of that, I haven't been able to conduct the interview as I had originally hoped. I gave some thought to the idea of taking a week off, but we haven't missed a Reload in three and a half years and I don't plan on changing that. Ultimately, I settled on an early debut for an idea I had been planning: the RPG Reload Glossary. The Glossary is a place where I can define things and go into their histories a little so that you, the reader, know where I'm coming from. I'll be doing a Glossary entry every month or two as long as I can come up with ideas for it, so if you have anything you want explored, let me know in the comments.
I thought I would kick this series off with a question that has come up now and then in the comments on some stories here at TouchArcade: what is a 'social RPG'" Since I'm partially responsible for dragging the term into the English-speaking world, I felt I should probably help with the actual definition. The truth is that it's a fairly broad term, one that is well-understood in Japan, its country of origin, but not nearly as clear outside of that country. I don't know if it's going to stick around as a genre label, but since we officially recognize it here at TouchArcade, we'd probably better explain it.
I think we all understand what an RPG is, at least in the basic sense. Since 'social' is an English word, you would think it wouldn't be too hard to sort out the combination of the two. Yet the kinds of games that are classified as social RPGs often have only the barest social elements. What gives" If I can't even chat with other players, how is it social at all"
In this case, however, the 'social' part of the label comes not from its literal meaning, but from another...