One of my favorite things about story is that it is always the same and yet always changing. There are new genres evolving all the time. Recently I found out about a young genre called LitRPG.
As some of you might know, RPG stands for role-playing game. RPG games are video and tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons. This genre is part fantasy, part science fiction, and all video game mechanics. It’s like your favorite game jumped out of the screen and into your bookshelf. These books have characters in a game-like world, where they level up, earn experience points, and complete quests.
The first LitRPG book was published in Russia in 2010, but the genre really took off in the English-speaking world around 2014. Since then, LitRPG has become a staple of the self-publishing scene, with hundreds of new titles released each year.
Reading is a Game!
Just like in video games, the sense of progression in LitRPG is designed to be addictive as you watch your characters grow and develop over time. Characters start out weak and inexperienced. As they gain levels and experience points, they become stronger and more capable. By incorporating video game mechanics into the story, authors create a world that feels like a game.
Balancing Story, World Building, and Gaming
One of the challenges of writing LitRPG is balancing the game mechanics with the story. If the mechanics are too complex or too prominent, they can overwhelm the story. On the other hand, if the mechanics are too simple, they will annoy the reader.
Writers must create a world that feels like a real game, but also has enough depth and complexity to support a compelling story. It’s not enough to simply describe a bunch of game mechanics and call it a day. The world needs to feel alive and dynamic, with a sense of history and culture.
LitRPG is a unique and compelling genre that combines the best elements of video games, role-playing games, and traditional storytelling. It is fascinating to see one form of storytelling influence another.
Grab a book and get ready to level up!
For more insight into LitRPG, check out this interview with bestselling author Dakota Krout.
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