If you die in the game, you die in REAL LIFE
July 12, 2012 3:14 AM   Subscribe

Help me find books (or other media) about people playing RPGs.

I'm looking for books, movies, comics, what have you (but preferably books!) where a substantial part of the story focusses on people playing RPGs. To be more specific, I'm looking for variations on the 'it's the future and there's this total immersion MMORPG everyone's playing' theme. To give a few examples of what I'm talking about:

Ready Player One (book)
The entire .hack// franchise (anime)
Gamer (movie)
Nonplayer (comic)
Net Force Explorers (books) (does anyone else remember these? There were a few instances of the characters playing what we would now consider MMOs)

Are there any other notable examples I'm missing?
posted by anaximander to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
IIRC one of the chapters of Spock's World was a vignette from Vulcan's history about an asteroid miner who was addicted to an RPG-like virtual reality.
posted by XMLicious at 3:41 AM on July 12, 2012

Oh, here's another - in Alastair Reynold's House of Suns half the book is also a historical flashback to the 31st century where a little girl who is a wealthy heiress grows up in almost complete isolation due to kidnapping threats and for a few other reasons. The only other little kid she meets is another heir who it's intended that she'll have a mariage de convenance with and they spend most of their time together playing an immersive VR game that takes place in a Medieval-type feudal setting.
posted by XMLicious at 3:54 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

A few of Neal Stephenson's books come to mind: Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Reamde. Snow Crash comes closest to "immersive game that everyone plays", although it's more of a global marketplace/meeting place with games as a side show.

I also read the first book in Tad Williams' Otherland series, which covers this ground, but couldn't bring myself to read anything else in the series.
posted by flipper at 4:25 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by chiefthe at 4:28 AM on July 12, 2012

It isn't about the future so much, but the RPG panic was strong in the book Mazes and Monsters, which was also made into a movie.
posted by OmieWise at 5:01 AM on July 12, 2012

The Red Dwarf episodes "Better than Life" and "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" are along these lines...
posted by jozxyqk at 5:22 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's an anime that's started this very season, called Sword Art Online, and it's exactly what you're talking about because your question title reflects this anime.

Another anime, from the previous season was set in a VR MMORPG, called Accel World. I didn't watch a whole lot of it, but it seemed more like a MMO fighting game than an RPG.

While not being a total-immersion-future-RPG, there is a story arc in the anime Welcome to the NHK that focuses on the protagonist's adventures in an MMORPG. This YouTube link has it all pretty much covered.
posted by Senza Volto at 5:51 AM on July 12, 2012

Dream Park and it's sequels by Larry Niven
posted by overhauser at 5:57 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card isn't about RPGs, but it's a major plot device.
posted by Kriesa at 6:04 AM on July 12, 2012

The True Game series by Sherri Tepper, perhaps.
posted by oomny at 6:09 AM on July 12, 2012

Best answer: Charles Stross, Halting State
Cory Doctorow, For the Win
Conor Kostick, Epic
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Slum Online
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:12 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Piers Anthony's Demons Don't Dream, but, uh, it's a Piers Anthony book so it's a bit creepy as hell.
posted by griphus at 6:21 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's some sort of RPG/strategy game played at the beginning Andre Norton's The Time Traders. Looks amazingly fun, though the rules and objective are pretty sketchy.
posted by valkyryn at 6:27 AM on July 12, 2012

posted by pyro979 at 6:29 AM on July 12, 2012

Christopher Priest's pretty amazing A Dream of Wessex (1977) is an important precursor to the genre ...
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:29 AM on July 12, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers, everyone! There's a lot of stuff here I had never heard of, and a few that I came across years ago but forgot. I'm definitely going to check out as many of these as possible.
posted by anaximander at 6:31 AM on July 12, 2012

Invitation to the Game
posted by deezil at 6:44 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

A few of Neal Stephenson's books come to mind: Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Reamde.

Don't forget his early novel, The Big U, which features "Sewers and Serpents" LARPing.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:18 AM on July 12, 2012

I remember reading Caverns of Socrates when I was about 12 and it blowing my mind. I think everyone else has mentioned ones of note. There were (ghostwritten) Tom Clancy novels for kids that tickle my memory as well, but I have no clue what they were called. There was one dealing with the amygdala and another with fencing that stick out, were they the Net Force books?
posted by Strass at 7:18 AM on July 12, 2012

The Guardians of the Flame series by Joel Rosenberg were about a group of role players who actually stumble into the game they're playing.

It explores a lot of ideas about a bunch of University students from modern day being dropped into a fantasy setting. I'm not sure if that's exactly the sort of thing you're hunting for, but it's an interesting idea.

(The further into this series you get, the more that theme is dropped, as they become immersed in the world.)
posted by ChrisManley at 7:30 AM on July 12, 2012

Piers Anthony's Killobyte.
posted by ODiV at 8:00 AM on July 12, 2012

Oooh ooh! You want Vivian Vande Velde's Heir Apparent, User Unfriendly, and the most recent sequel (which I haven't read), Deadly Pink.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:01 AM on July 12, 2012

Epic, Conor Kostick
posted by Xere at 8:31 AM on July 12, 2012

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
posted by juiceanddoom at 8:35 AM on July 12, 2012

Not really future, but MMO: DC Vertigo's User
posted by Seboshin at 9:26 AM on July 12, 2012

There is a long running comic book series about role playing called Knights of the Dinner Table.
posted by bq at 11:19 AM on July 12, 2012

John M. Ford's Growing Up Weightless
Walter Jon Williams' This Is Not a Game series (well, it's about ARGs)
Dorothy Heydt's A Point of Honor
posted by Zed at 11:52 AM on July 12, 2012

I disagree about REAMDE. The online part is fairly small compared to the rest of it (the more-traditional spy/terrorist thriller part).

Besides, it's just not a good book. And I'm a Stephenson fan.
posted by Lexica at 7:26 PM on July 12, 2012

Avalon is a (live-action) movie by the Ghost in the Shell director about a future where everyone's in a war-based MMO.

Do you care about tabletop RPGs? There's lots of webcomics about this, as well as the manga Quick Start, and there's mountains of "replays" in Japanese. A "replay" is like a transcription of a tabletop campaign, sometimes told completely in-world as fiction, sometimes from the perspective of "people at a table doing things".
posted by 23 at 12:51 AM on July 13, 2012

« Older I'm an iPod newb and I need help.   |   Looking for Author/Titles of a trilogy about... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.