What is LitRPG and GameLit?
Some people use the terms interchangeably. For most, they’re at least a little different.
LitRPG, at its core, involves a portal fantasy (like Chronicles of Narnia) where the other world the characters travel to is either a video game or a world with game-like elements.
Many books use VR (virtual reality) immersion as the means by which the characters enter the alternate game world. Some readers consider the VR trope to be overdone, and it is certainly a common theme in many series.
Many people give the distinction between LitRPG and GameLit to be the dependent on the amount of stats present. A novel featuring a character sheet and stat changes in each chapter would be LitRPG. Heavy use of stats is considered to be ‘crunchy’ (think about crunching numbers). A book set in a game with little or no stats would be considered GameLit.
What types of LitRPG exist? There are many, many different sub-genres, and the definitions people use for them can change. Here’s a basic rundown of the types:
Crunchy = lots of stats
No-logout = the character has little to no interaction with Earth
“OP” = the term can refer to the main character or others in the story, but it always stands for ‘over powered’ meaning the character is far beyond the strength / power level of other characters
Dungeoncore = the main character is an actual dungeon luring adventurers in to be killed
Dungeon-builder = the main character runs a dungeon and manages the development
Town / Settlement-builder = the main character runs a town or starts a new settlement and manages the development
Crafting = the main theme throughout the story revolves around crafting. The usual suspects are blacksmithing, enchanting, and other fantasy professions
Grimdark = elements of horror throughout the story
Harem = the main theme of the story revolves around romance or erotica. Many harem stories feature a single male main character surrounded by 10+ women who repeatedly have sex with the main character
LitFPS = instead of the typical epic fantasy setting, the story is more sci-fi and follows a modernized or futuristic character. ‘FPS’ stands for first person shooter
NPC = not a novel categorization at all, but a relatively standard term that’s present in most LitRPG stories. It stands for non-player character, typically meaning a game character created within the game and run by artificial intelligence or code
Other categories and designations exist, many in regards to setting (like cyberpunk or sci-fi, for instance), and the choices are nearly limitless. Let’s take a look at 3 different series and the keywords associated with them: