Re: Researching the History of GameLit

#1
Hey all. I've been searching around the internet but haven't been able to find a peer-reviewed history of the genre that is GameLit. I'm partially doing this for a college research project and partially doing it for my own curiosity, considering I love watching/reading/writing GameLit stories. If, for whatever reason, you know of any scholarly articles pertaining to GameLit (or even just LitRPG) please let me know, I'd love to check them out.

If not, I'd still love to hear your own anecdotal history of GameLit, along with what you believe defines a story as being GameLit.

Re: Researching the History of GameLit

#2
Well, I can't give you anything scholarly, but I'll give you my own take on things. 

First off, in order for something to be defined as litRPG/gamelit, I think there is one condition which needs to be met. The story needs to have some form of computerlike system which controls the abilities or status of at least 1 character in the story (Usually the main character.) Now, this could be in the form of abilities/skills, or it could be in the form of a status with various numerical values, or a combination of both. Furthermore, the system could become far more complex than merely these features, but this is the most basic, bare minimum. 

Now, the following here is merely my own take. 

There are many different types of litRPGs, so lets take a look at a classification. To begin with, there are "Isekai", "Real world", and "Fantasy world" litRPGs. In isekai, a person or people from the real world are transferred (Either through reincarnation or transmigration) to another world, in which they are granted the ability of a system. In real world, the people of the real world are granted a system, which then effects the world around them. In fantasy world, there is no transfer, and the world itself is already in place, and the main characters have access to a system. 

Now this brings up another classification. Is the system something accessible to everyone, or is it something specific to the main character (And/or a limited set of characters?) I've seen examples of both stories. 

Next is the subclass of being reincarnated as an X. In many litRPG stories, the main character is reincarnated as something strange. Typically it's a monster or an animal (Usually insects for some reason), however there have been other crazier variants of this. 

Another classification would be based on the very nature of the system. Is there some sort of god controlling it, or perhaps there is a group of administrators? Or perhaps there is no explanation at all, and that's simply the state of the universe in said world. 

Re: Researching the History of GameLit

#4

Dubs Wrote: The story needs to have some form of computerlike system which controls the abilities or status of at least 1 character in the story

I would argue that the DnD-based system stories should be classed as gamelit. NPCs, for instance, is in a system world but the system is based on a ttrpg not a digital one, and I'd say it's still very much gamelit. Anything with a system, even implied, and not necessarily computerlike.

Re: Researching the History of GameLit

#6
The first instance of a book/fiction with the GameLit tag is lady bunny which seems to have started 6 years ago-ish and the author androg was last active on Sunday, March 21st, 2021, 12:09 so you might have luck getting into contact with them. I also recall hearing somewhere that Sword Art Online really helped with popularizing Isekai which is pretty closely related to GameLit and LitRPG but I don't know whether that's true or not.

Re: Researching the History of GameLit

#7

Asviloka Wrote:
Dubs Wrote: The story needs to have some form of computerlike system which controls the abilities or status of at least 1 character in the story

I would argue that the DnD-based system stories should be classed as gamelit. NPCs, for instance, is in a system world but the system is based on a ttrpg not a digital one, and I'd say it's still very much gamelit. Anything with a system, even implied, and not necessarily computerlike.



Yeah, I also thought that GameLit cast a pretty broad net whereas LitRPG was rather rigid in its definition. I'd always heard GameLit was anything set in a game world or otherwise based around games. I don't think I've heard of a system being required for GameLit before. Thank you both for your input!


Flenser Wrote: I think Annie Bellet was publishing something like GameLit back in 2014, which is when I first heard the term. I haven't read her, but I think she's active on twitter. Maybe find some other authors who were early adopters of the form?




Why53124 Wrote: The first instance of a book/fiction with the GameLit tag is lady bunny which seems to have started 6 years ago-ish and the author androg was last active on Sunday, March 21st, 2021, 12:09 so you might have luck getting into contact with them. I also recall hearing somewhere that Sword Art Online really helped with popularizing Isekai which is pretty closely related to GameLit and LitRPG but I don't know whether that's true or not.



I'll have to check both of them out. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't SAO more of a LitRPG than it is an isekai? It fits all the checkboxes I can think of for LitRPG(system, blue boxes, xp, leveling, skill, etc), but it's only really considered an isekai for part of the first season. This question is more for other people since I'm assuming from your comment that you haven't watched SAO (I'd suggest keeping it that way, but to each their own).

Re: Researching the History of GameLit

#10
There's a pretty cool history with LitRPG, yeah!

Admittedly, I don't believe you'll be able to find a neat way to say "and this is where it started in the USA" since the genre didn't have a firm name for itself -- commonly filing under the more general sci-fi/fantasy tags for so long -- but the starting point for the current popularity and Name of the genre is totally identifiable!


History overview stuff...
  • LitRPG started in Korea as part of the cyberpunk genre. It was loosely utilized under the idea of people trapped in Virtual Reality games but wasn't its own thing. Admittedly different, but still basically cyberpunk with the possibility of fantasy characters. The genre was not defined.
  • Fortunately for its advancement, a group of Russian authors ran with the base idea of 'stuck in an MMO' in late 2012. Of note, “Play to Live” by  D. Rus and “The Way of the Shaman” by V. Manhanenko (among many others) gained moderate traction in their home country. These two, at the least, were commonly published under EKSMO publishing, and it was here that the LitRPG tag was invented for project-naming purposes.
  • The niche was then seemingly noticed by well-known 'mainstream' Russian Sci-Fi writer Andrei Livadny, who decided to write his own LitRPG series under the name “Phantom Series”. This series exploded the niche. The books became national best sellers and effectively pulled LitRPG into the Russian limelight, where it's now a well-recognized story form. Funnily enough, his books still aren't the top-selling LitRPGs, but they were massively influential.
  • Many of these Russian stories were then translated into English, and the genre has begun its own transformation here in the USA, since moving past the limitations of the MMO story form.
Annndddd.... that's probably a nice place to stop.

The popularization of the current LitRPG label in America is wonky. We got translations first, but they're not what's ended up defining the American understanding of the name. So, uh, the most commonly accepted popularizing series after that would likely be Aleron Kong's "The Land". The issue is, though, that he's got some beef with basically every other LitRPG author and was definitely not the first to pick up the genre. Again, wonky history.



LitRPG Facebook group's boiled-down American Definition...

First, LitRPGs are stories in which the character or world experiences some sort of obviously stated game mechanic.
(it's intentionally vague)

And second, the character must experience explicit progression. This most commonly takes the form of levels that increase a person’s attributes, or newly gained skills. An example of non-explicit progression might be the development of friendships following your killing of a dragon, or non-quantifiable fame.


If you need a source article, this one is nice and goes deeper than its title suggests:
https://www.levelup.pub/what-is-litrpg






Re: Researching the History of GameLit

#11

TurkeyBlock Wrote: There's a pretty cool history with LitRPG, yeah!

Admittedly, I don't believe you'll be able to find a neat way to say "and this is where it started in the USA" since the genre didn't have a firm name for itself -- commonly filing under the more general sci-fi/fantasy tags for so long -- but the starting point for the current popularity and Name of the genre is totally identifiable!


History overview stuff...
  • LitRPG started in Korea as part of the cyberpunk genre. It was loosely utilized under the idea of people trapped in Virtual Reality games but wasn't its own thing. Admittedly different, but still basically cyberpunk with the possibility of fantasy characters. The genre was not defined.
  • Fortunately for its advancement, a group of Russian authors ran with the base idea of 'stuck in an MMO' in late 2012. Of note, “Play to Live” by  D. Rus and “The Way of the Shaman” by V. Manhanenko (among many others) gained moderate traction in their home country. These two, at the least, were commonly published under EKSMO publishing, and it was here that the LitRPG tag was invented for project-naming purposes.
  • The niche was then seemingly noticed by well-known 'mainstream' Russian Sci-Fi writer Andrei Livadny, who decided to write his own LitRPG series under the name “Phantom Series”. This series exploded the niche. The books became national best sellers and effectively pulled LitRPG into the Russian limelight, where it's now a well-recognized story form. Funnily enough, his books still aren't the top-selling LitRPGs, but they were massively influential.
  • Many of these Russian stories were then translated into English, and the genre has begun its own transformation here in the USA, since moving past the limitations of the MMO story form.
Annndddd.... that's probably a nice place to stop.

The popularization of the current LitRPG label in America is wonky. We got translations first, but they're not what's ended up defining the American understanding of the name. So, uh, the most commonly accepted popularizing series after that would likely be Aleron Kong's "The Land". The issue is, though, that he's got some beef with basically every other LitRPG author and was definitely not the first to pick up the genre. Again, wonky history.



LitRPG Facebook group's boiled-down American Definition...

First, LitRPGs are stories in which the character or world experiences some sort of obviously stated game mechanic.
(it's intentionally vague)

And second, the character must experience explicit progression. This most commonly takes the form of levels that increase a person’s attributes, or newly gained skills. An example of non-explicit progression might be the development of friendships following your killing of a dragon, or non-quantifiable fame.


If you need a source article, this one is nice and goes deeper than its title suggests:
https://www.levelup.pub/what-is-litrpg

i second everything in that comment

Re: Researching the History of GameLit

#12

Corruptor Wrote:
Asviloka Wrote:
Dubs Wrote: The story needs to have some form of computerlike system which controls the abilities or status of at least 1 character in the story

I would argue that the DnD-based system stories should be classed as gamelit. NPCs, for instance, is in a system world but the system is based on a ttrpg not a digital one, and I'd say it's still very much gamelit. Anything with a system, even implied, and not necessarily computerlike.



Yeah, I also thought that GameLit cast a pretty broad net whereas LitRPG was rather rigid in its definition. I'd always heard GameLit was anything set in a game world or otherwise based around games. I don't think I've heard of a system being required for GameLit before. Thank you both for your input!

That's about right!

A few years ago I started a thread on this site because I was curious about the differences between "LitRPG" and "GameLit." I see it's still available: This storytelling style isn't LitRPG, but does it even qualify as GameLit?

One of the things I learned after launching that thread was that a group of writers claim to have invented the term GameLit for essentially the purpose you described: They wanted to create a new label which could be used as a very broad umbrella to cover all sorts of storytelling efforts, as long as they have "gaming elements essential to the plot" -- a definition which is deliberately vague so that it can fit lots of different approaches. (For instance, in GameLit there is no requirement that any of the characters think of themselves as living in a "game world." The readers may see it that way, but the characters may just think their world is "perfectly normal and natural!")

Armed with that new information, I then took the trouble to write another post (offered further down in that same thread) in which I listed several different successful pieces of storytelling (most of them professionally published) which used "gaming elements" and/or "virtual reality" settings, and I explained why I felt each of them did or didn't qualify as LitRPG and/or GameLit. Some of them are stories which were published long before anyone had ever seen the labels "LitRPG" and "GameLit" being applied to anything