LitRPG: Why Are The Games Always Awful?

LitRPG is a genre of fantasy fiction that heavily uses the conventions of video games, especially RPGs, as part of its narrative. Meaning, characters tend to have stats and builds and so forth. Sometimes it’s given a framing device like having people be trapped in a full dive VR game, and sometimes the world just runs on video game stats, which, really, is no more of a stretch than a world with magic.

This is right up my alley and I’m glad it’s a thing, but one thing that’s really weird: The games are always really uninspired? Like, I have never once read a LitRPG and walked away thinking “man, I wish that game was real.” Even when the story is good, the world the story takes place in is always a terrible WoW clone. Tera and Blade and Soul and Guild Wars 2 all manage to have at least a slightly original world (in fact, Guild Wars 2 and Blade and Soul are both pretty different from WoW in terms of setting). Why is everyone else busy aping goblins and trolls? And how come every single LitRPG takes place in a world where your primary capabilities are strictly defined by stats mostly derived from the D&D six, with possibly some janky job system, ability trees, or both tacked on? Everyone’s figured out that having a cool magic system is a good thing for fantasy, and LitRPG writers have serious overlap with fantasy readers/writers, so why has no one apparently made the connection that a cool game system would make for a cooler LitRPG? Is it that hard to ape something like Dark Souls instead of staying glued to WoW?

1 thought on “LitRPG: Why Are The Games Always Awful?”

  1. Try Crota, The Gods Game – not a WOW, ESO or any other MMO clone. It draws inspiration more from CRPGs like Pathfinder, Divinity OS, PoE, Baldurs Gate.

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