I got hooked on the lost-in-the-MMO genre with SAO (Sword Art Online), but I didn't even know it was a genre until a few weeks ago. I caught up on Log Horizon, and now I'm watching Overlord. Obviously, MMOs are a relatively new phenomenon, but approximately how old is this genre of anime?

I am curious because I'm about to go looking for more titles and I'd like to know how far back to search and/or when to stop looking.

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    .hack is probably one of the first, if not the first anime set in an MMO world. Also, don't forget Accel World – ton.yeung Sep 11 '15 at 3:35
  • are you asking what the first MMORPG Themed anime/manga is? because currently how i am reading this is a recommendation request which is off topic – Memor-X Sep 11 '15 at 5:23
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    @Memor-X: It's asking for the start of the lost-in-MMO genre, not asking for recommendation. – nhahtdh Sep 11 '15 at 6:55

The earliest show I can think of where a character is trapped inside a video game is .Hack//Sign, which aired in 2002.

However, this isn't purely an anime feature - I read many books with similar situations, some dating before 2002. Example 2002, Example 1998

Presumably this genre is a type of mutation of the 'Trapped in the TV' trope.

It's an easy way to legitimize a fantasy world for an author, so it's become a common staple in teen/young fiction.

Whilst not exactly the same, there are earlier media like The 1980's Dungeons & Dragons cartoon that have characters magically transported to a fantasy world. Or even books like Type Writer in the Sky (1940s) in which characters are transported to a foreign land through the pages of a novel. It's simply modernization of this trope.

So, to answer your question - 2000s and onwards is a good starting point, but you might find similar shows with a slightly different approach earlier than that if you want.

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