I’m the first one to jump and say that Chaos (un)Controlled is a YA that blends gaming and RPG elements. When I was trying to box my genre for self-publishing, I learned of a newly emerging genre, LitRPG, which encompasses books that involve characters within a game. Basically a blend of literature and role-playing. My first thought was “Oh wow! I’ve finally found an actual niche rather than YA Contemporary Science Fantasy because that’s a mouthful.” Upon additional Googling research and website perusion (yea, I make up words that sound cool; I’m a writer, what of it?), I discovered I was WRONG.
The exemplary Ready Player One is a good fit for that category. Besides that one though, the books I found using this particular tag were far too literal. Like, avatars, hit points, NPCs and all that. And orcs. Chaos (un)Controlled takes RPG elements, but the entire story is not an RPG. I consider it more the story-boarding side of a game before the actual mechanics are introduced. Hardcore LitRPG seems like an extremely niche category not meant to have widespread demographic appeal; it’s meant to draw in those old Dungeons & Dragons and MMO players. I never got into PC gaming, with the exception of The Sims and the wildly entertaining Theme Hospital. I was strictly #TeamConsole, and PCs were generally the platform for MMOs. I remember the first time I got a trial disc in the mail; I believe it was EverQuest. It looked amazing at the time, but it required a subscription and A. My mom was not going to pay this for me and B. She also didn’t believe in putting her credit card online back then. -.- That would have been my PC gaming induction and I missed it.
Chaos (un)Controlled brings gaming elements into a real-life story, but could just as easily be bringing real-life elements into a gaming structure. It purposely creates a realistic world and a dream-like setting side-by-side, putting a magnifying glass to each world and blurring the edges. But I can’t call it LitRPG. Rixa doesn’t sign in with her avatar and follow a strict numerical hit-and-attack point system. She’s not hooked up to the OASIS online. She doesn’t battle harpies and goblins and griffins. She harnesses an internal power driven by focus and emotion. She crosses planes bringing her real life and fantasy life together.
While a LitRPG summary like “involves a character submerged into an alternate reality where characteristics of a role playing game are inherent,” is enticing and almost seems perfect, Chaos (un)Controlled’s storyline seems far different from novels with that genre tag. For now, I continue to remain the lone wolf on the sidelines. YA Contemporary Science Fantasy it is.
*Fades into the shadows*
(Ya’ll remember fading in chat rooms, right?)