Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #21 Considers Role-Playing Video Games

What con­sti­tutes a video RPG? Is there any actu­al role-play­ing involved?

Our audio edi­tor Tyler His­lop rejoins hosts Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca Spyres, and Bri­an Hirt to dis­cuss those video games that are sup­posed to make you feel like you’re con­tribut­ing to the sto­ry, that your choic­es mat­ter, in which you can maybe, you know, choose to wear a fun­ny hat or just craft potions all day instead of advanc­ing the plot. We com­pare solo vs. social games, com­pare video to table-top role play­ing, think about how we relate to the char­ac­ter we’re play­ing, and more.

We touch on Ulti­ma, Final Fan­ta­sy, World of War­craft, Hori­zon Zero Dawn, Skyrim, Fall­out, Out­ward, Death Strand­ing, Eri­ca, Hell­blade: Sakura’s Sac­ri­fice, The Witch­er, and more. Also from TV: Ban­der­snatch, The Guild, and that D&D Key & Peele sketch.

Some sources we looked at includ­ed:

This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can only hear by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.