Finding that bit of common ground with something can make all the difference when pursuing a new hobby or interest. That’s why we started Beyond the Console. We’ll help you explore mediums away from your controller all while keeping it connected to what interests you the most: Gaming!

As a gamer and anime lover, I’m always looking for series that successfully mix the two together. Luckily, gaming seems to be a popular pastime in the animated world and awesome shows and films centering around video games are becoming more and more popular.

Throughout the years I’ve couch surfed my way through a fair share of series that take place in virtual realms. Narrowing down my list of favorites was hard work, but here are my top 5 anime series that bring animation and gaming together:

.hack//Legend of the Twilight

“Welcome to The World, the most advanced online game ever created. In The World you can be anyone you want to be, act out your adventure fantasies and through teamwork and determination, you can even become a hero. 14-year-old twins Shugo and Rena just won a contest that lets them play as the legendary avatars ‘Kite’ and ‘Black Rose.’ Armed with the power of the Twilight Bracelet, the two must discover what is causing rogue monsters to infect The World and carry on the legend of the .hackers.” (via MyAnimeList)

Why You Should Watch: Based on the manga of the same name, .hack//Legend of the Twilight helped to popularize the theme of gaming in anime. The story of Kite and Black Rose is lighter, funnier and more accessible than the rest of the .hack universe making it a great starting point for those looking to get into the series.

No Game No Life

“Teto summoned Sora and Shiro away from the real world called a “shitty game”, and into another dimension. Here, all violences are forbidden, and everything is decided by a game! Of the 16 different races residing in this world, “Humanity” is the weakest. After having the vast majority of their lands captured by the other races and being driven to the brink of extinction, Sora and Shiro challenge these one-of-a-kind battles of the intellectual powers in order to save Humanity!” (via Crunchyroll)

Why You Should Watch: No Game No Life is so beautifully constructed and animated that each scene, whether it’s a combat sequence or watching a character cook, is an absolute treat. The bright colors, mixture of styles and character designs make it stand out in the sea of anime.

Log Horizon

“One day, while playing the online game Elder Tales, 30,000 players suddenly find themselves trapped in another world. There, eight-year veteran gamer Shiroe also gets left behind. The trapped players are still alive, but they remain in combat with the monsters. The players don’t understand what has happened to them, and they flee to Akiba, the largest city in Tokyo, where they are thrown into chaos. Once proud of his loner lifestyle, Shiroe forms a guild called Log Horizon with his old friend Naotsugu, female assassin Akatsuki and others.” (via Crunchyroll)

Why You Should Watch: A staple in the “stuck in a game” anime subgenre, Log Horizon is one of the best there is. Filled with all the usual tried and tested sword and sorcery motifs, fans of fantasy RPGs and MMOs will find a lot to enjoy and relate to within this pick.

Sword Art Online

“In the near future, a Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online has been released where players control their avatars with their bodies using a piece of technology called: Nerve Gear. One day, players discover they cannot log out, as the game creator is holding them captive unless they reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss. However, if they die in the game, they die in real life. Their struggle for survival starts now…” (via Crunchyroll)

Why You Should Watch: Sword Art Online is the definition of getting more bang for your buck. Stuffed with enough plot for two shows there is rarely a dull moment throughout the series, making it perfect for a weekend spent binge watching.

Accel World

“The year is 2046. Haruyuki Arita is a young boy who finds himself on the lowest social rungs of his school. Ashamed of his miserable life, Haruyuki can only cope by indulging in virtual games. But that all changes when Kuroyukihime, the most popular girl in school, introduces him to a mysterious program called Brain Burst and a virtual reality called the Accel World.” (via MyAnimeList)

Why You Should Watch: Accel World may not have the most appealing hero but what it does have is a hefty chunk of high quality character development. Setting aside the time to watch the cast of characters and their relationships grow throughout the series is a rewarding (and hilarious) undertaking.

Do you have a favorite game-centric anime? Sound off in the comment section below or let us know on Facebook or Twitter.