What is LitRPG?

January 14, 2017

Great question! +5 xp for asking about the LitRPG definition. See what I did there? Adding an element of gaming to this post doesn’t make it LitRPG, but when you add game mechanics (especially stats, experience, and leveling) to science-fiction or fantasy, you get LitRPG books (shorthand for Literary-RPG or Literary Role-Playing-Games). Ready to learn more? Keep reading…

LitRPG Definition - What is LitRPG?

A Standard Definition of LitRPG

According to Magic Dome Books:

LitRPG is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy which describes the hero’s adventures within an online computer game. LitRPG books merge traditional book-style narration with elements of a gaming experience, describing various quests, achievements and other events typical of a video game.

Why would they know? They’re responsible for publishing a lot of the Russian LitRPG that has been translated to English. The history of LitRPG is also connected to Japanese light novels – both fiction and the anime based off the books. Confused? So were we, which is why we put together this post.

UPDATE: (1/16/17) We’ve heard back from Magic Dome Books and have a bit more information from them about the origins of LitRPG in Russia and elsewhere in the world.

Some experts track the origins of the genre as far back as the mid-1980s but its initial popularity indeed peaked with the arrival of The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor. Its first translations appeared in Russia around 2010, triggering a wave of fan fiction from new budding Russian authors who came up with a name for the new genre: LitRPG.

Three published authors became the founders of the genre in our country. I’m talking about D. Rus, V. Mahanenko and D. Mikhailov. All three originally contributed their series to Russia’s bestselling “LitRPG” project which is published by EKSMO, Russia’s biggest publishing house, since 2013.

The word “LitRPG” as the project’s title was suggested by the project’s producer Alex Bobl in a brainstorming session with V. Mahanenko and EKSMO’s science fiction editor-in-chief Dmitry Malkin. Later, other gifted Russian authors joined the project, such as M. Atamanov, A. Osadchuk and A. Livadny.

We will be conducting a more in-depth interview with them soon. Check the blog or sign-up for our newsletter to find out when it’s published.

History of LitRPG in the United States

Whether the father of LitRPG is Piers Anthony or Joel Rosenberg is up for debate, but “soft” LitRPG has been around for at least a couple decades if not more. Recently, as in the last few years, a new wave of American LitRPG written in English for a U.S. audience has hit.

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What is Hard LitRPG?


What is Soft LitRPG?


Prominent LitRPG Authors



Popular LitRPG Books



Best LitRPG Series?



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