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LitRPG/GameLit is a fairly new genre for most Westerners, although it has been around for a long time in Russia, and includes both science fiction and fantasy with RPG elements. For those who don’t know lit stands for literature and RPG stands for role-playing game – like Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft, Fallout and others. The roots of the genre are based in Russia where gamers began writing stories and posting them online. Over the last 7 years years or so it has caught on in the US and around the world.
What is it?
The basic premise of what makes a litrpg story unique from other genres is that the story is primarily set in a game world with role-playing game mechanics – experience, leveling, skill attainment and progression, character attributes, quests, etc.
Generally stories where people simply talk about gaming or where the main character is at a computer screen playing a game wouldn’t really count as part of the genre. Although some now consider such books to be a “lite” version of the genre while other types of stories, such as portal fiction, like Blaise Corvin’s Delvers LLC, are often lumped into the mix too. LitRPG, or GameLit, is all about the character in a game, immersed in a digital world – usually virtual reality – and should make up the majority of the story. A fantasy story with a character sheet at the end of the chapter won’t really cut it.
- LitRPG = Literature Role-Playing Game
- Main character is immersed in a game world.
- Story includes RPG elements that actually affect things in the story.
These are some of the authors in the genre that I’m most familiar with, in no particular order.
D. Rus – The creator of the LitRPG genre. His Alterworld series has exploded in popularity after being translated into English. One thing that was interesting in Alterworld was the use of the game by the Russian military and spies.
Aleron Kong – Real life medical doctor, Kong writes the Chaos Seeds series, which starts with The Land: Founding. The main character, Richter, sheds his old life like a sweater in the desert, and begins to carve out a new existence in The Land. The Land is a great series despite the drama surrounding Kong’s attempt to trademark the term “LitRPG”, which he didn’t create, and his showboating use of the self-appointed title “Father of American LitRPG”, which he is not. Nick Poedehl does an amazing job narrating the books.
Blaise Corvin – A US Army veteran living in Texas who currently writes full-time. He has two series, but is primarily known for Delvers LLC. It’s on the lite end of the genre with Corvin often referring to it as “portal” fiction in interviews.
Edward Brody – Originally from Los Angeles, Edward now travels the world while writing his series. Gunnar Long is trapped in a virtual game world, at least until the government figures out a way to shutdown the system.
Edward Castle – The main character in Unbound Deathlord: Challenge easily has the best backstory, which also intertwines beautifully with his in-game persona. Book two is coming out soon. This is one of my favorite books in the genre.
James Hunter – Marine Corps veteran and author of 4 books in the Viridian Gate Online series, James has also written urban fantasy. An asteroid is plummet to Earth bringing with it an apocalypse that many avoid by delving into VGO, permanently.
Travis Bagwell – I couldn’t get into Catharsis the first time around, the high school drama and amount of the book spent outside the game world dragged on me. But the reviews are overwhelmingly positive so I’ll have to give it another whirl.
Michael-Scott Earle – Better known for his fantasy books and collabs with authors like Jasmine Walt and Samuel Green, he’s a new entry to the genre. I have yet to read his series but it’s on my TBR list.