There's a lot of overlap between those who love anime and those who love video games. Yet, video game animes are strangely uncommon.
And that's a shame because video games make for a fantastic concept to tackle in anime form, whether we're talking about a character whose life revolves around playing games OR a unique video game that draws in characters and subjects them to fantastical rules.
Video game concepts mostly pop up in the isekai anime genre, which is a genre that involves characters being whisked away to make-believe worlds and forced to live within their games, including everything from leveling up and advancing skills to finding loot and completing quests.
Much rarer is the anime series that's inspired by or based on actual video games, giving new twists on those characters and plots and further exploring the lore already established by those games.
From anime based on the hottest video games of all time to ones that simply feature a video game-like environment, here are our picks for the best anime series about video games for gamers.
10. God Eater (2015–2016)
The God Eater anime series is based on a video game of the same name, featuring an apocalyptic world that's been ruined by monsters called Aragami, and the only hope of humanity are the God Eaters who can fight and kill those monsters using their God Arcs.
The plot of the series pretty much follows the premise of the game and the New-Type God Arc element, which can morph into a blade, a gun, or a monster-like weapon that devours Aragami.
With its CGI elements and animation, it makes the Aragamis and the fight scenes even cooler and more badass than in the games.
9. Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear (2020–Present)
If you're a fan of the "cute girls doing cute things" trope in anime, you might find the Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear anime series up your alley.
It follows the story of a VRMMO gamer girl named Yuna, who receives an in-game gift: a cute bear outfit. The twist is that she's nothing and vulnerable without the costume, but quite overpowered with it.
Is she trapped in the game world? Well, it seems like she purposely lives her life in the game, not bothered by whether she's actually trapped because she has nothing to do in the real world.
8. Monster Rancher (1999–2000)
Monster Rancher (also called Monster Farm) is a classic anime series based on a video game of the same name. It follows the story of Genki Sakura, who was brought into the game after obtaining a special disc.
Inside the game, he befriends Holly and her monster friend, Suezo (the iconic one-eyed monster). He then accompanies them on their journey in search of the Phoenix to fight the evil Moo.
Aside from the monsters, the anime series also features the unsealing of the "disc stones" in Monster Temples to acquire new monsters, which is one of the mechanics of the Monster Rancher games.
7. Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, So I'll Max Out My Defense (2020–2023)
If you find Rising of the Shield Hero weird because its weapon of choice is a shield, then you'll get the same vibes with Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, So I'll Max Out My Defense.
In this anime series, the protagonist Kaede Honjo (player name: Maple) is a player in the game NewWorld Online and chooses to spend her accumulated points to power up and level up only her defense instead of other attributes, becoming a super-tank player.
Unlike other video game-based isekai anime series, this one actually features a story where players aren't trapped in the game.
6. Overlord (2015–2022)
Overlord features a typical video game-based isekai anime plot, which involves the protagonist—a player named Momonga—who's trapped inside a VRMMO (YGGDRASIL) after the game supposedly shut down.
The protagonist was already powerful after years of playing, so much so that he's terrifying. Not to mention his menacing skeleton avatar.
With no clue as to what happened or how he might get out, he lives in the game while assuming the name of his guild, Ainz Ooal Gown, in hopes that he'll find other players.
On top of him being trapped, the NPCs of the game also become sentient: living, talking, and thinking like him.
Just from the title alone, you know there's going to be romance in the And You Thought There Is Never a Girl Online? anime series.
This one's based on a light novel of the same name, revolving around Hideki Nishimura (player name: Rusian) and his experience of heartbreak in the fictional game Legendary Age.
No trapped-in-the-game trope here, but the female character—Ako Tamaki (player name: Ako)—does haves a hard time discerning reality from the game world, which causes some misunderstandings in her real-world life. By the way, she's the protagonist's in-game wife!
4. Castlevania (2017–2021)
Castlevania is an anime based on the horror-adventure video game series of the same name, featuring the main characters of those games, including Alucard, Trevor, and Sypha.
This dark fantasy anime centers on their adventures in saving the people in darkness from the hands of Dracula and his monsters. The story and lore are derived from the games Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
3. Dota: Dragon's Blood (2021–Present)
Dota: Dragon's Blood is an anime series based on the MOBA game Dota 2. You don't need to have played the game to enjoy this series, but of course you'll enjoy it more if you do have some experience with it!
It centers on the adventures of the Dragon Knight Davion, who has now become a dragon himself after the Eldwurm Slyrak merged his soul with his. He now has the duty to stop Terrorblade from killing other dragons and collecting their souls for his nefarious plans.
2. Sword Art Online (2012)
Sword Art Online is probably the most famous isekai anime, which was based on a light novel series of the same name written by Reki Kawahara. It revolves around the story of Kazuto Kirigaya (player name: Kirito) and the fictional VRMMO game Sword Art Online.
The Sword Art Online game features fantastical mechanics where players can truly dive into the virtual game by linking their actual senses to the game (FullDive) using devices like NerveGear and Amusphere.
Unfortunately, the gaming world was stirred up when thousands of players were suddenly unable to log out. To make matters worse, the death of the game avatar now meant death in the real world, and it's up to the players to beat the game before the game beats them.
From its initial slasher game environment, Sword Art Online provided new twists later on, like the fairy-themed world of Alfheim Online.
1. The King's Avatar (2017–Present)
The King's Avatar is a Chinese animated web series (donghua) based on a web novel of the same name. Unlike other series on this list, this one features the life of a pro gamer and the game he plays.
After being forced to resign from his club as an esport player, Ye Xui was also forced to surrender the account he built up to be the most powerful, earning three championships. Now, he starts a new journey and a new account from scratch, aiming for more victories and glory.
There are no isekai elements or VRMMO mechanics here. The taut storytelling brings the characters into the game while the satisfying animation and fight sequences keep us thoroughly engaged.