What's a good definition of LitRPG?

Discussion in 'All Things LitRPG' started by Conor Kostick, May 17, 2017.

  1. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    As much as I enjoy high fantasy, I really want to see some wackier stuff like Toon or Teenagers from Outer Space. And that's why I'm setting my current thing in a world like Saurian or some of the Jurassic Park games.
     
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  2. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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  3. VRRanger

    VRRanger Level 12 (Rogue) Roleplaying Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I feel maybe boxing in all of these definitions will make it confusing to readers? Readers who just want to read something in the broad category of LitRPG without all of the fine tuning? It may just be me. And I guess as a potential author I don't want to be ostracized from one group or another because I use the wrong tag of definition when I want a broad audience, whether or not they care more about LitRPG or GameLit.
     
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  4. MrPotatoMan

    MrPotatoMan Level 13 (Assassin) Citizen

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    I recommend if you havent already trying the please dont tell my parents im a supervillain I know it sounds like a kids book but its done really well and it definitly scratched that itch for wierd and wacky books for me
     
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  5. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I have read those, and you're right, they're really good! I feel no shame at reading a kids book if they're quality.
     
  6. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    I'm sure this has probably been answered or talked about somewhere, but does a LitRPG setting have to involve an MMO? Can it involve the MC stepping into a single player game, such as Fallout or Dragon Age?

    I ask because I realized I've never yet read a LitRPG that didn't involve a 'group game' of some kind, be it online, VR, or even tabletop.
     
  7. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Funnily enough, that's sort of what my story for NaNo is supposed to be. Kinda sorta, really.
     
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  8. Jay

    Jay Hiatus. LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Nice! I honestly wouldn't see any problem with LitRPG being a "singe player" game? I mean, they have mechanics that aren't really that different from MMOs so the same features could apply in book form, right?
     
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  9. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Yeah, my roguelike is (kinda-sorta) like this...
     
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  10. Conor Kostick

    Conor Kostick Level 10 (Filcher) LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen

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    Wow, I looked in on Wikipedia for the first time in a few months. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LitRPG has changed massively and at the time of this post (you can look up history to 15 December 2017 to find the version I'm talking about now if it gets changed, as I'm sure it will), has an extraordinary statement: 'Aleron Kong, the self-styled 'Father of American LitRPG', after failing to surreptitiously acquire a trademark for the term 'LitRPG' on the Primary Register, pushed to have it filed on the Supplemental Register'. Then it says, 'It is important to note that the trademark filed by Kong is not yet active, but is set to become so on the 9th of January 2018.' And here's the evidence: http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87193675&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch.

    It seems from this that the intention of Aleron Kong is that no one else can use LitRGP in their titles, promotion, etc.

    @Matthew James how is your history of LitRPG coming along? It is very much needed.
     
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  11. Alexis Keane

    Alexis Keane Level 14 (Defender) Roleplaying Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Ha, the entry went back up, lol.
     
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  12. Conor Kostick

    Conor Kostick Level 10 (Filcher) LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen

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  13. Alexis Keane

    Alexis Keane Level 14 (Defender) Roleplaying Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Yeah, but there are two people who think they’re anon - one in Denver, the other in Sweden - that keep on deleting the entire subentry.
     
  14. FrustratedEgo

    FrustratedEgo Level 11 (Thief) Roleplaying LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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  15. Alexis Keane

    Alexis Keane Level 14 (Defender) Roleplaying Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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  16. NoMan2000

    NoMan2000 Level 4 (Warrior) Citizen

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    I always love quoting myself, so I wrote an article about this:

    https://litrpgreviews.blog/2017/10/03/defining-litrpg/

    You can read the full article if you want discussions on everything, but here's the definition:

    Stories where characters play a game (usually in virtual reality), or where the characters live in a world that has game-like mechanics. These stories must include progression in some sense via game mechanics, which can include tower/building upgrades, gaining unique items, magic upgrades, skill progression, faction bonuses, etc.​

    A work can be broken into two broad categories, creamy vs. crunchy. The following features make a work more crunchy. Crunchy vs. creamy is a reference to peanut-butter and the crunching is partially from “number crunching.”
    • If characters are aware they are in a game-like World.
    • If the majority of the novel takes place in a game-like World.
    • Stat progression is very explicit.
    • The more game mechanics are used in the Universe.
     
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  17. Prax Venter

    Prax Venter Author of Enthralled LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Hello everyone,
    I am new here, but I read through a lot of this thread. Here is a short article I wrote for another site that addresses the allure of the LitRPG, and I think it's relevant to the discussion. Let me know what you think!

    ***
    LitRPG fiction scratches all the same itches that Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, or any other role-playing games do- where a character literally progresses as they live through epic adventures, gaining tangible experience, skills and loot.

    The intent of this article is to highlight the aspects of the genre that appeals to me and help those who wish to indoctrinate the unexposed into this uniquely rewarding style of storytelling.

    01: Escape
    Like most fiction, LitRPG stories pull readers in, immersing them in rich, fantasy words like nothing on earth. In most cases this is done (again) literally, with the main character pulled into another existence; either with or without their consent.

    Once inside, the responsibilities of their past lives can be forgotten, and this new life of action and adventure can be embraced without guilt. Not all LitRPG stories lock the main character into the virtual world, but the concept still holds true. You are given a fresh start with nothing in your past to hold you back.

    02: Tangible Progression
    In the real world, you can study for a test, run on a treadmill or haggle with a used car salesman, but afterward, you will not have any observable indication that your ability to perform these actions in the future has progressed in any way.

    In a LitRPG novel, characters will often have access to detailed statistics of what their physical strength, mental capacity or even attractiveness levels are, and know exactly what these stats will allow them to accomplish. Again, not all stories do it the same way. But, typically, there are always measurable levels of character progression.

    This applies to skills as well. Knowing that you can permanently perform a specific technique takes a lot of stress and frustration out of life. Often these skills and abilities are granted instantly when attempted, or picked from a list of potential paths on level up.

    Countable experience points that can never be taken away seems to instill a primal sense of growth and contentment within the human mind. In a LitRPG game-world, your hard work will always move you forward and often comes with instant gratification.

    03: Continuous Origin Story
    One of my favorite parts of a superhero’s journey is when the newly-gifted individual is learning about their abilities and figuring out how to become an unstoppable powerhouse. Within the LitRPG genre, this wonderful period is typically stretched for the entire length of the story, even spanning multiple books in a series.

    They will continuously gain experience, stats, skills, and slowly grow more powerful. Often permanently. As I’ve said before, this seems to scratch an itch in the human psyche and experiencing this gradual, and measured growth throughout an entire story is what makes these works of fiction different from other genres.

    04: Epic Loot
    Millions of people around the world play massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Developers learned long ago that allowing players to bash foes like pinatas, causing them to drop sparkling treasure, tickles that often-mentioned part of the human brain. This is also similar to the thrill of a scratch-and-win ticket or a slot machine pull.

    The chance that a powerful artifact will fall out of a vanquished giant-rat only spurs our main character to dive headlong into those infested sewers. Combine epic loot drops with permanent character growth, and you have a potent combo that can stimulate humans to new levels of contentment.

    05: Conclusion
    Like all books, reading a LitRPG will place you in the dragonhide boots of the main character, and you will experience all of the legendary adventures and satisfying skill gains along with them. A talented author will be able to wrap all the concepts above in a nice literary package, complete with; a great story, lovable characters, and vivid descriptions of the fantastical, virtual game-world.
    ***
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
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  18. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    This turned out to be an epic thread... Thanks for adding your input.
     
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  19. MrPotatoMan

    MrPotatoMan Level 13 (Assassin) Citizen

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    I know this is going to sound strange but I think that sums up everything thats wrong with LitRPG now im not saying any of those things are bad quite the opposite i agree they are cornerstones of the genre my problem is I think they are being drastically overdone you dont need to give amazeing loot every chapter better to give it once or twice a book otherwise it stops being epic if the progression is so constant its not progress its just repeating past sucess (after all progress is overcoming challenges) theres no origin story if youve already made it far and its not escape if escapeing solves the MCs problems then its just the MC liveing a perfect life I think a large part of storytelling is subtlety if you overdo things they become worse not better and the more important a thing is the more subtle it needs to be.
     
  20. ChamomileHasANovel

    ChamomileHasANovel Level 7 (Cutpurse) Beta Reader Citizen

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    I don't think you can define LitRPG - or any genre - with a strict list of "it must include all of this and none of that." Categories created for the products of human creativity must necessarily be more flexible than that. Something like "it must include X out of Y criteria" would be more defensible, but even then I suspect it would be possible to have a book that has fewer than X of the Y criteria, but which leans so heavily into those criteria as to be undeniably LitRPG. For example, a book about an MMOFPS that has extremely limited RPG elements - no stat points of leveling up, no perk system, and loot that's limited to hoarding minigun and rocket launcher ammo for when you really need it - could still end up clearly being a LitRPG book if it's heavy on the numbers and the element of escape from the mundane world to one that closely resembles video games (possibly because it is literally a video game). Some people would try to argue that anything that doesn't fit a very strict definition belongs to the broader category of GameLit, but if you're trying to lump the new Jumanji in with this hypothetical numbers-heavy, bullet-counting, damage-calculating MMOFPS book, you've done something wrong. Jumanji 2017's game elements are omnipresent, but comparatively very simple, and it's obviously far more accurate to say "if you liked Awaken Online, you'll probably like this new MMOFPS book" than to say "if you liked Jumanji 2017, you'll probably like this new MMOFPS book."
     




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