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LARP (Live Action Role Playing)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

LARP (Live Action Role Playing), also called LARPing, is a character-based 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 uses players, costumes, environment and props to add immersive elements to gameplay mechanics, with goals pursued in real-world locations that may be chosen or decorated for parts of the story. LARP often brings more physical exercise and social interaction than conventional and electronic gaming, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) gaming.

The gameplay mechanics in LARP vary and can be similar to those used in typical role-playing game dynamics, such as Dungeons and Dragons. As with D&D, players may use multi-sided dice to determine chance-based events. LARP can also be more focused on combat simulation and re-enactment, with rules similar to combat sports. The rules may also be determined by the group.

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. Players use improvisational acting to play as a character and often stay in character for the duration of the game.

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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