The difference between Video Games, Board Games, and Role Playing Games

I've been thinking a bit about the differences between Video Games, Board Games, and Role Playing Games. This was brought on because of my treatments which have made it more difficult for me to want to try to learn the rules for different games. I've soured a lot on Board Games because the rules take an inordinate amount of time to learn (especially many of the more recent board game offerings that aren't simple abstract strategy games). That's a lot of cognitive overhead to keep in mind. Contrast that with video games where the rules are self-contained with the computer. True, there are complex games for the computer that require learning a ton of rules and corner cases, but generally speaking you're not going to have to worry about having to correct for a mis-remembered rule mid-way through a video game (contrast that with a board game where this is almost a given, at least with my faulty memory). Role Playing Games fit in a weird space with this because they're not only an engine for collaborative storytelling but also (depending on the system) a modular toolkit for adapting the system to your (and your gaming group's) needs. In some cases you can play a RPG with a different ruleset like Mythic where you're trading certain mechanics for other mechanics. It's a fascinating space (and one that can cause folks to endlessly discuss at what point you're no longer playing said game, to which I leave such discussions for the philosophers that don't have enough to do already).

The interesting parts of this are the rigidity of each system. Video Games don't offer much flexibility. If it doesn't exist in the code then it doesn't exist, period. Sure, there's modding and other level design, but until someone commits code then it doesn't exist. Conversely in a Role Playing Game you can add anything if the gaming group agrees. At this point it becomes consensus-reality on whether something exists (and whether the GM is going to put the work in to make that happen). Board Games have a certain consensus reality around them as well. Every Monopoly Game is different because certain groups have different house rules for things like Free Parking, Go to Jail, and passing Go. You can also agree to remove or tweak a rule. If you can't stand negative scoring in a game (which is one of the mechanics I loathe in a game) you can simply agree to remove it. Depending on your creativity you could completely adapt a board game to something else entirely, though it would take some crafting ability.

The funny thing is I've moved my gaming tastes into the Role Playing Games space and re-introduced myself to the Video Gaming space. Board Games don't really interest me much, save for the abstract games. That's not to say that they're bad or somehow inferior to the other types of gaming. I'm just finding my tastes are more for either stringent rules that I need to be aware of without necessarily having to police myself or having something more free-form as a toolkit that I can build from. I'll likely have more thoughts on this in the future but wanted to get this out of my head now while the thoughts were percolating.