I honestly thought I was immune to this new genre. LitRPG, the weird name coming from its birthplace, Russia, is like reading a novel about a video game. Complete with stats, character classes, game glitching, meta characters, skills, grinding, looting, and leveling up.
I thought I was too old for video games, barely playing anymore. Perhaps a few hours just to see what’s new, then abandon the title altogether. After all, I have so many projects I wanna complete.
But LitRPG doesn’t just speak to a person raised with videogames such as me. It’s also a refreshing change, a wave of newness. There are no rules, there are no boundaries, just pure imagination in an as-of-yet unexplored genre.
Oh, sure, it has existed in some state or form before. Many sci-fi writers have experimented with meta characters that are aware they’re in a virtual world or a shared dream-state or something like it. But LitRPG treats it like it is, showing the rules of the game world, hit points and attack rolls.
I’ll admit that too much in-game info can get grating. Maintaining a balance between what to share to the reader and what to omit is an art in and of itself. But the ones I’ve read so far handle it well. For example, William D. Arand handles the characters beautifully, with personal motivations, opinions, and conflict in a brutal world where ideologies are tested every day. LitRPG might have been a hacked-together genre poorly translated from other languages and becoming immensely popular, but William for example actually makes it shine like a proper literary tale. I can’t suggest enough the audiobook version by Jeff Hays, he made a one-man-full-drama of this story, and I can’t wait for the next one, sometime early May.
I’m actually avoiding to read the sequel in ebook so that I can fully enjoy the audio version, though it’s a shame it’ll be from another narrator. I’m reading Otherlife Dreams to quell my need until then.
Ending this post with a shout out to Caterina Kalymniou (I don’t know her personally,) who appears to dominate the cover illustrations for this genre at this point in time.