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LARP (Live Action Role Playing)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

LARP (Live Action Role Playing), also called LARPing, is a character-driven type of gameplay that is conducted in the physical world. LARP combines elements of improvisational acting, pervasive gaming, cosplay (costume play) and role-playing games.

LARP often brings more physical exercise and social interaction than conventional and electronic gaming, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) gaming. LARPers often use specific locations, costumes and props to add immersive elements to gameplay mechanics. The focus of LARP is often on conflict and conflict resolution. Common themes include combat historical re-enactments and simulations with rules similar to combat sports.

The gameplay mechanics in LARP vary and can be similar to those used in traditional role-playing games. Players may use multi-sided dice to determine chance-based events, for example. For storylines, there may be a single "dungeon master" who creates the story, or the group may consensually decide the outcome of individual player actions.

Differences between LARP, cosplay and pervasive gaming

LARP can be loosely defined but reliably involves cosplay, roleplay and immersive gaming. Cosplay itself doesn’t necessarily involve gameplay but may just be individuals dressing up as characters and going to regular events and public locations. For example, cosplay is very common at comic and game conventions. Pervasive gaming, similarly to LARP, involves games ranging throughout real physical world locations but may not involve other players and doesn’t typically include acting or dressing up.

This was last updated in August 2018

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