What’s LARP?

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LARP is a live action role playing game where players assume in-game identities and act as a specific character. It gained popularity in the 1970s and can be medieval, fantasy, or set in different eras. LARPs are generally divided into combat and theatre types and can have long or short story arcs. They are enjoyed by players of all ages and backgrounds and can be considered a form of interactive literature or audience participation theater.

LARP stands for Live Action Role Playing. Refers to a type of interactive game where players assume in-game identities and act as a specific character throughout the duration of the game. The game may conform to a scenario written by the moderator or Game Master. Alternatively, the LARP can be based on individual decisions made by the participants.

While activities that fall under the broad definition of LARP have been around for at least a century, LARP gained popularity in the 1970s due to the popularity of tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons.

Many LARP games are medieval or fantasy themed, since many participants are fans of Renaissance Faire or Dungeons & Dragons. Such LARP games can include knights, castles, wizards, damsels, dragons and, of course, dungeons. LARPs are not limited to this format. A LARP can be set in a 1940s film noir and follow the case of a badass private eye, or be set in the distant future with robots, talking spaceships, and aliens.

LARPs are generally divided into two types, combat and theatre, although the line between these is quite porous. Indeed, while LARPers might disagree, Revolutionary and Civil War reenactors can be considered a specialty type of live combat LARPer, while Murder Mystery weekends, for example, might qualify as a LARP of theatrical type.

Many LARP games have long or always running story arcs, where each play is another episode in the story. Other games are designed to take place once, perhaps over a weekend, during which players gather for that game and then disperse. Some LARPs are objective-directed, such as mission scenarios, while others are played competitively with points scored for winning fights or deceiving opponents.
LARPs are enjoyed by players of all ages, genres, and backgrounds, despite the common misconception that they are only for teenagers. Many players grew up doing LARP with their parents and met their spouses at a game or convention.
LARPs can be considered a form of interactive literature, a type of audience participation theater, or simply an addictive game. For many gamers, gaming is both a social activity and a way of life.

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