LitRPG is a sub-genre of Fantasy that focuses on players inside of RPG games. For those who are unfamiliar, the term RPG stands for Role Playing Game. This is a genre of game that invites players to create a new character who acts as their stand-in in the game world. This style of game leads to the ability to create an entirely different persona, and live as that person.
When placed into a fictional book this allows for even greater freedom and creativity. The book is not limited to current technology. Many of these books take place in worlds where the player is placed into a fully immersive game world where they no longer feel like they are playing a game but are actively controlling the character (and in some cases feeling what the character feels).
Ready Player One
Probably the most well-known example of LitRPGs, Ready Player One. This book follows the activities of Wade as he adventures in the world of “The Oasis”. Playing the game as his character, Parzival, Wade competes with gamers all around the world for the chance to find the Easter Egg hidden by the developer before he died. The winner not only wins a bunch of money but also controlling interest in the company that runs the game. In order to prevent an outside company from winning and turning the game into an expensive pay-to-play nightmare, the real players must do everything they can to win.
This book errs on the side of believability in terms of the technology. Most players are limited to a visor and a pair of gloves that allow them to interact with the world. They do introduce a much more immersive experience later but that is limited to the extremely wealthy only.
The Way of the Clan
This is the series that I am currently falling through. This series takes place in a world where you are able to climb into a capsule and fully take over the body of your avatar. The main character, Rostislav, gets invited by his neighbor to take part in a quest chain with a member of his clan. The only catch, Ros will have to delete his character and start over. In the process, he creates Rosgaurd and stumbles upon not only the quest that he was asked to assist in but another special quest and a unique spell that will open the way to a whole new world.
While this game allows for the full immersion, by closing you off in a capsule, it still has limits. The players are required to leave the capsule to eat and sleep. They also don’t get any feeling in the game. The players do often stay in the game for well over 24 hours but their bodies suffer for it.
This is a strange entry to the list. A 3 book series that takes place in the world of Swords and Sorcery (essentially Dungeons and Dragons). The story follows a group of NPCs within the game who accidentally become adventurers. At the same time, it follows along with a group of players who run into the NPCs again and again. As their adventures continue things get stranger and stranger.
This series is interesting because the game world that it takes place in an imaginary but continuously interacts with the real world in strange ways anyway. The main characters, for all intents and purposes, do not actually exist, yet they are compelling and fully fleshed out making you care for them more than you do for some of the “real” people.
This is a fast-growing genre that currently has hundreds of books, with new ones being added constantly. What are your favorite LitRPG novels/series? Which book first drew you into the genre? Alternatively, if you tried reading one of these books and didn’t like it, what pulled you out of the experience?
Let me know in the comments below, and let me know if there is anything you would like me to write about in the future.