Every RPG rule book seems to have a chapter at the start that describes what a roleplaying game is and a huge number of them miss the point entirely by calling it in one way or another a ‘story telling game.’
Let’s look at some examples.
The 5E Players Guide;
“The Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game is about storytelling in worlds of swords and sorcery. “
Pathfinder’s Core Rulebook;
“Think of it as a cooperative storytelling game, where the players play the protagonists and the Game Master acts as the narrator, controlling the rest of the world.”
4e Player’s Handbook;
“A roleplaying game is a storytelling game that has elements of the games of make-believe that many of us played as children.”
It’s only when we go as far back as the AD&D 2nd Edition Rulebook that we get a definition of a roleplaying game I can actually get behind.
“This is the heart of role-playing. The player adopts the role of a character and then guides that character through an adventure. The player makes decisions, interacts with other characters and players, and, essentially, “pretends” to be his character during the course of the game. “
While I understand why the term ‘storytelling game‘ has been used and can agree that it’s not entirely inaccurate, you are sitting around with your friends and narrating out actions that when linked together will form some kind of narrative, it is not what playing a roleplaying game is about to me and I’m going to tell you why.