The works of J.R.R. Tolkien inspired countless video games from the earliest text adventures to the latest MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games). The fictional Middle Earth, with its highly detailed landscape and wide array of inhabitants including elves, hobbits, wizards, dwarves, men, and orcs, is a popular setting for fantasy games. Based on the Lord of the Rings storyline or simply set in Middle Earth, Tolkien-inspired games captivate countless gamers. The Hobbit, a text adventure released by publisher Melbourne House in 1982, was the most successful of the early adaptations. Most of the Tolkien-inspired games that followed received mixed success, including Melbourne House's real-time strategy game War in Middle Earth (1988) in which players controlled an army and marched against the evil forces of Sauron. Released in 1991 and 1992, Interplay's series of role-playing games (RPG), The Lord of the Rings Volumes I and II, were the last officially licensed Lord of the Rings titles released before the coming of the film trilogy in 2001.
The first installment of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy revived Tolkien-inspired video games to an unprecedented extent. Beginning with the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by Vivendi Universal Games in 2002, the theme took off to captivate a new generation of gamers. The following decade saw a number of Tolkien-inspired releases, from action-adventure film adaptations to RPGs set in Middle Earth and based loosely on the Lord of the Rings storyline. Tolkien-inspired maps were released for many popular games including The Elder Scrolls and Warcraft. The highly successful MMORPG, The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, launched in 2007 and remains popular today with expansion packs released as recently as 2012. Appealing to a variety of genres, Tolkien's Middle Earth remains a strong force in the gaming world.