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LitRPG, short for Literary Role Playing Game, is a literary genre combining the conventions of RPGs with science-fiction fantasy novels.[1] LitRPG is a literary genre where games or game-like challenges form an essential part of the story and where visible RPG statistics (example strength, intelligence, damage) are a significant part of this world. This in contrast to GameLit which involve game-like world's but do not provide visible statistics At least some of the characters in a LitRPG novel may understand that they are playing a game or are in a game-like world: they are 'meta-aware'. So, while Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is a fantasy novel, a book about people creating avatars and interacting in a Lord of the Rings MMORPG would be a LitRPG novel.[2]


A definitive history detailing the infancy of LitRPG is difficult to track down.[3] With the rise of MMORPGs in the 1990s came Science Fiction novels that utilised virtual game worlds for their plots. Early examples are Tad Williams' 1996 - 2004 tetralogy, Otherland, Conor Kostick's 2004, Epic[4] and Charles Stross's 2007 Halting State. In Taiwan, the first of Yu Wo's nine ½ Prince (½ 王子 Èrfēnzhīyī Wángzǐ) novels appeared, published in October 2004 by Ming Significant Cultural.[5] In Japan, the genre has reached the mainstream with the release of the media phenomenon Sword Art Online in 2009, which might be the originator of the genre's growth.[when?]

While these novels and others fit a broad definition of LitRPG a Russian publishing initiative identified the genre and gave it a name. In 2012, EKSMO, Russia's biggest publishing house, started its bestselling multiple-author project entitled LitRPG. According to the Russian LitRPG author Vasily Mahanenko, the actual name "LitRPG" was coined in late 2013 in the course of a brainstorming session between himself, EKSMO's science fiction editor Dmitry Malkin and fellow LitRPG author Alex Bobl. This explains the seeming grammatical awkwardness of the name: in Russian, the proper grammatical form is "LitRPG", not "RPGLit". Since 2014, EKSMO has been running LitRPG competitions and publishing the winning stories.[6][7]

Many of the post-2014 writers in this field insist that depiction of a character's in-game progression must be part of the definition of LitRPG, leading to the emergence of the term GameLit to distinguish those books that don't necessarily embody levelling and skill raising. Game-Lit, however, is sometimes used to denote books that are being turned into computer games.[8]


  1. ^ "Escape From Reality - Washington Free Beacon". Washington Free Beacon. 2016-07-16. Retrieved 2017-05-10. 
  2. ^ "LitRPG definition forum discussion". Retrieved 2017-06-10. 
  3. ^ "What is LitRPG and why does it exist?". The Verge. 2016-05-28. Retrieved 2017-05-10. 
  4. ^ "Conor Kostick on Ready Player One, Epic and LitRPG". 1 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018. 
  5. ^ Kuo, Grace (3 June 2012). "Taiwan novelist captures hearts of youngsters at home and abroad". Taiwan Today. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Романы серии LitRPG (Первый сезон)". Fan Book. 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2018-02-17. 
  7. ^ "Level Up Publishing: What is LitRPG?". 11 June 2018. Retrieved 11 June 2018. 
  8. ^ "No thrills in game-lit". The Guardian. 6 February 2008. Retrieved 26 January 2018.