The first role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, depicted Kobolds as a race of weak, humanoid reptilian monsters formed into primitive tribes populating the sorts of dungeons explored by low-level adventurers. In other words, they were an early example of mooks, watered-down orcs with no real chance of winning any fight. As role-playing expanded into other game lines and computer gaming, this precedent was carried over, and Kobolds are still depicted as weak or ineffectual. The Kobold's perennial role has become a recognized running gag among gamers; however, this has been changed to some extent with an article on Meepo, a kobold NPC from a low level adventure, Wizards of the Coast's Sunless Citadel. To make Kobolds more attractive as characters, they were one of the races featured in the Races of the Dragon supplement.
 Kobolds as cannon-fodder
- For more information on Kobolds in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, see Kobold (Dungeons & Dragons).
An example of the traditional Kobold role is the roguelike NetHack, in which Kobolds are common, medium-sized monsters of weak power. In the CRPG Castle of the Winds, Kobolds are little warriors generally depicted as holding a knife or dagger. They are only a threat to very low-level or severely weakened players. Kobolds made a more recent appearance as low-level enemies in the Game Boy Advance dungeon crawler Shining Soul II, as well as in the unrelated Game Boy Advance RPG Golden Sun.
In the Warcraft series of games, Kobolds are a race of ratlike burrowers, who often appear as villains. The games also include goblins and gnomes, and the three races fit the same rough pattern as diminutive races skilled in early technology. Even here, Kobolds are less developed than gnomes and goblins. In World of Warcraft Kobolds are low-level enemies generally found in caves and mines. These Kobolds treasure candles: they will wear one on their head, and occasionally a candle will appear in the loot. They occasionally yell at the beginning of a battle, "You no take candle."
 Canine aspects
In many computer role-playing games, Kobolds are a race of anthropomorphic dogs that primarily dwell in forests and often use swords and bows as weapons. The Suikoden and Lufia series both use this depiction, as does the anime series Record of Lodoss War. Suikoden also includes the Nay-Kobold, which resembles an anthropomorphic cat. In Japanese their name is a pun: it can also be read as "Nekobold", a portmanteau of neko and kobold.
The publication Kobolds Ate My Baby! by 9th Level Games features Kobolds as comical, dog-like creatures with an insatiable, omnivorous appetite. They are extremely stupid, led by King Torg, and worship Vor the Big Red God of Anger. In the MMORPG Ragnarok Online, Kobolds are small, blue dog-like bipeds who wield an array of weapons.
 Other depictions
- In the Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game by Palladium Books, Kobolds are a race of accomplished smiths, who stand about 3-4 feet tall and are given to cruelty. They look mostly human, though with pointed features and ears.
- In Mythic Entertainment's Dark Age of Camelot, players are able to play a Kobold character if they choose the Norse realm of Midgard. These Kobolds are blue-skinned, mischievous, and on a similar intellectual footing with the average Norseman.
- In the video game series Xenosaga, Kobolds are portrayed as a type of Gnosis that resemble a humanoid lizard with long scythe-like claws.
- In the video game series Quest for Glory, a Kobold magic-user has captured the Baronet Barnard von Spielburg and transformed him into a bear.
- In Magic: The Gathering, Kobolds are a group of three 0-casting cost red creatures in the set Legends. There are the Crimson Kobolds, Kobolds of Kher Keep, and Crookshank Kobolds. There are also three 2-casting cost creatures that give them either a +0/+1 toughness boost and trample (Kobold Drill Sergeant), first strike (Kobold Overlord), or a +1/+0 power boost (Kobold Taskmaster).
- In Final Fantasy XI, Kobolds are a race of earth spirits enslaved by Evil Weapons, which use them to more easily manipulate their environment.
- In the online alternative action shooter Gunz: The Duel, Kobolds are a tribe of creatures which appear in the Quest mode map "Prison" to swarm the player. In this, Kobolds appear vaguely reptilian and feline.
- In Etherlords series, Kobolds are a humanoid-like faction of shamans or mages. They are controlled by Chaots.