What is LitRPG and because does it exist?

May 29, 2016 - Kindle Unlimited

I like good fiction. we guarantee I’m literate. But we spend many of my book time listening to “okay” sci-fi, fantasy, and poser novels on Audible. we peppers in classics and non-fiction, nonetheless zero spends my Audible credits improved than pap about sorcery swords, mind implants, and private detectives.

A integrate weeks ago I’d finished or deserted all my existent audiobooks, and motionless to find something new for a commute. On a whim, we typed in “cyberpunk” in a Audible hunt bar to see if there’s something I’ve missed. What we found was not cyberpunk. It was this:


Survival Quest (The Way of a Shaman: Book #1), by Vasily Mahanenko.

Here are things we dislike about this book during initial glance:

  1. The name Survival Quest. It’s like pursuit a highway outing film “Journey Drive.”
  2. The word “Shaman”.
  3. The apparent reduction of anticipation and sci-fi, that is a large nope from me.
  4. How totally selfish and insipid we can suppose a protagonist is, formed on this depiction.

If there’s one thing I’ve schooled about books, we can and should decider them by their covers. The cultured judgements of a publisher gives we a lot of info on what you’re about to put in your brain.

But a book did have dual things going for it:

  1. Over 500 reviews with tighten to a 5 star average.
  2. It’s about a man who gets trapped in an MMO.

So we bought a book. And all altered for me.

Look, a suspicion of going inside a WoW-style MMO as a tract component in sci-fi is not new to me. we have a integrate books in my Audible collection with this trope: Daemon, by Daniel Suarez; Halting State, by Charles Stross; and Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. we also have a genuine paper duplicate of Neal Stephenson’s Reamde on a shelf somewhere, nonetheless who has time to review books with eyeballs?

Grinding knowledge and gear

Survival Quest was different, though. It’s not a book about common online experiences, or about a blurriness of genuine / practical distinctions. It’s not even unequivocally “science fiction,” in a clarity that it doesn’t seem to be posing any questions or what-if scenarios for an talented reader to unpack.

No, Survival Quest is about what MMOs are indeed about: harsh knowledge and gear. It’s a novel about a pleasure of leveling up.

Literally. The protagonist (egotistical and flavorless, as we assumed), is detained in a full soak VR plug to offer out his jail judgment in an MMO copper mine. He feels pain entirely from each rodent bite, and a depletion of chipping divided during mining nodes all day, nonetheless he also feels an addictive euphoria when he levels adult his character’s jewel-crafting skill.

MMOs are typically sole to us as grand anticipation adventures, nonetheless they’re unequivocally and truly about min-maxing. Sure, we can spin your mind off for a while and follow some query lines. Maybe even review a NPC dialogue. But when it’s time to get critical we lift open your stat piece and start reading. Video games censor a “dice rolls” that used to be so apparent in tabletop RPGs, and it’s a gamer’s pursuit to rediscover a math behind their success and urge on it.

Survival Quest is a terrible novel. Unlikable characters, infrequent sexism, and a tract totally focussed to a sure character’s course — distant over a common flex we concede in any Frodo-inspired anticipation novel. But it also includes things like this:

Damage taken. Hit Points reduced by 5: 11 (weapon repairs + strength) – 6 (armor). Total: 35 of 40.

And this:

Buff gained: Strength +1, Energy detriment reduced by 50%. Duration – 12 hours.

How could we not adore it? we blazed by a initial novel, dedicating each giveaway impulse to listening. Then we bought a sequel: The Kartoss Gambit. And afterwards we was out of monthly Audible credits, so we went and got AlterWorld by D.Rus on Kindle Unlimited.

D.Rus is indeed credited with formulating a “LitRPG” genre in his Amazon bio, nonetheless it’s tough to tell exactly. we haven’t found a decisive story anywhere. These MMO-in-book-form novels are apparently renouned in Russia, Japan, and Korea, and mostly created by authors of those nationalities in their local languages — a versions we have of both Survival Quest and AlterWorld are endurable English translations from Russian.

I haven’t finished AlterWorld yet, so we can’t pronounce to how genre defining it is, nonetheless it does have a many critical part:

You’ve been strike by Messenger Gnoll! Damage sustained: 16 points. Life 44/60

You’ve been strike by Messenger Gnoll! Damage sustained: 12 points. Life 32/60

If we can extrapolate a whole LitRPG stage from Survival Quest, I’ll contend this: it’s a many ideal depiction I’ve ever seen of what we truly wish from an MMO, and what I’ll never have. The novella here isn’t a grand anticipation sourroundings and plot, it’s a suspicion of a diversion where I’m always leveling faster than we suspicion we could, assembly hurdles we consider we can’t kick and afterwards violence them, anticipating dark quests and articulate to never-before-seen NPCs. Survival Quest is a anticipation about carrying a hyper-immersive MMO, with a multi-billion dollar budget, played by millions of people all around a globe, being all about me.

This past weekend we reactivated my World of Warcraft comment

I’ve given adult on childish fantasies of anticipating a One True Sword, or destroying a Ring of Power — those are myths. But video games are real. I’ve incited dollars into in-game gold, I’ve review a wikis, I’ve spent hundreds of hours grinding, I’ve deserted work and family responsibilities, and I’ve eventually quit in frustration. All since we wish to be a favourite of a practical world. It’s not going to occur for me. But that’s accurately what happens to a protagonist in each section of LitRPG.

An MMO can’t ever accommodate the energy fantasies, since we all wish to be god. And, if we allow to Kant’s sure imperative, you’ll know that will never work out: if everyone’s The Hero of Azeroth, no one is.

This past weekend we reactivated my World of Warcraft comment and rolled a new character. It’s not a shaman. I’m carrying a good time.