LARP: Crash Course Games #26

LARP: Crash Course Games #26


Hi! I’m Andre Meadows and this is Crash Course Games. Now, when you think of Larping, maybe you conjure up an image of a group of nerds wearing homemade costumes, sporting foam weapons, and casting spells on each other in the park. And yes, larping is something that many self-proclaimed nerds do love, but it is also enjoyed by lots of other people all over the world! The 2014 Larp Census (yes, that is a real thing)
documented participation in over 80 countries! But larping is more than just a game – it’s a game
that merges performance, community, and art. It allows you to immerse yourself in the game
by literally taking on the role of your character. So let’s take a look at what larping is, where it
came from, and the impact it has on its players. [Theme Music] LARP stands for live action role-playing game
(apparently the ‘g’ is silent). And according to interactive game researchers
Falk and Davenport, it can be defined as “a dramatic and narrative game form that
takes place in a physical environment. It is a storytelling system in which players assume character roles that they portray in person, through action and interaction. The game world is an agreed upon environment located in both space and time, and governed by a set of rules – some of which must be formal and quantifiable.” So larping is similar to RPGs in that the players take on a character and pursue goals within a fictional setting. The difference is that players are physically acting out their character’s actions and interacting with others that are in character. Also like RPGs, larps are run by gamemasters
or GMs. GMs are responsible for creating the world
and controlling the narrative. They address its people and culture, technology
and weaponry, and its setting and time period. Then they draft the rules. This may involve creating a completely new set or modifying an existing system to address how the game will handle combat, magic, death, and character skills. GMs are responsible for acting as the referee
at the actual game. They must also perform the role of event planner – arranging for a venue, advertising for the event, and handling the finances. To help the GMs, there are NPCs or non-playable characters which are kind of like NPCs in video games, except they’re real people. Non-playable characters take on the role of
the characters that are part of the narrative. It is their job to help players along in the
game by dropping hints and clues. The players, who are known as PCs or player characters, may create their character or be given one by the gamemaster. And they don’t just describe their character
verbally like an RPG. They embody it, improvising speech and movements and creating costumes with specific equipment and weapons. And like in RPGs, a player’s character can
also change and develop as the game progresses. And there are countless genres that can influence
game worlds that these players participate in: Victorian, Fantasy, Horror, Dystopian Social Commentary – pretty much anything you can think of. As well as three main styles of play. Demonstrative, or the battle game, is your standard boffer larp (boffer being the foam weapons players use to beat each other). In this style, two groups go head to head on the battlefield, rushing at each other and attacking until one group is left standing. Salon is a theatre type larp which is focused
on player interactions rather than combat. In this style, the GM generally plans out the characters in advance and gives each player a character card. The players then use this information to determine
how they will respond to the narrative. And then there’s live steel where players aim for historical accuracy, using actual weapons and armor during play. Now the name is slightly misleading since players don’t generally use steel weaponry, but instead rattan weapons that might leave a bruise, but won’t maim other players. But of course, there are no hard and fast rules, so larp designers may use a mix of these styles in their games. Whatever combination the GM decides is needed
to achieve the goals of the narrative. What this means is that each larp is unique
in its mix of genre and style. And the goals of each larp may differ too. Maybe you are tasked with finding the treasure and killing off foes, or maybe your objective is to solve clues to progress in the game. Either way, no game is complete without a
set of rules. Rules should cover the type of combat, magic, and skills that can be used in the game, as well as how the game will determine and treat deaths of characters. These rules ensure that there is a framework for decision making during the game by GMs, PCs and NPCs. So how did all this LARPing get started? Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Role playing has been a form of entertainment
for centuries. For example, in 16th century England, Queen Elizabeth I organized lavish events for historical role-play. And role playing in the form of historical re-enactment became widespread in the 19th century, with a particular interest in recreating the Middle ages. Moving into the 20th century, role playing in the form of improvisation theater and “theater games” was developed as a way to train actors. But while these forms of role play all provided some entertainment value, they weren’t actually games. So really it could be argued that the first modern larp began in 1977 with Brian Wiese’s Dagorhir. Dagorhir was a live-combat group based in
the D.C. area. It focused on costumed, battle-like play involving padded weapons and it helped define how we think of the game today. Now Wiese claims that his game was not influenced by DnD, but was a way to experience the adventure of fantasy stories like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings firsthand. A similar game was created by Peter Carey and Rob Donaldson in 1982 in Cheshire, England called Treasure Trap. This larp was also a live-combat group, but it did use an RPG for inspiration, using the location-based system of hit points and armor from Runequest. And while Treasure Trap only ran for 2 years, it did spawn many successors, including Durham University Treasure Trap and Labyrinthe. And starting in the 1980s, Larping can be found just about anywhere including Russia, which happens to have one of the biggest and most varied Larp scenes in the world. It’s during this time period that the most commercially successful larp, Mind’s Eye Theatre, was published. This game shared the theme and setting with
the RPG Vampire: The Masquerade. Thanks Thought Bubble! Now the types of larping we’ve talked about so far could be considered the more traditional approach, but there’s also a type of larping that has differentiated itself from all others: Nordic Larping. Now Nordic Larping was actually established in the 1980s with one of the first Larp events being created in 1985 by Swedish Larp group Gyllene Hjorten and it’s a campaign that continues even today. But Nordic Larp as a concept and approach was established by the annual Knutepunkt conference which was held in Oslo, Norway in 1997 and now rotates between Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. Nordic Larp is a variation of what we typically think of as larping, but it tends to focus on real-life situations rather than fantasy, and limits combat and magic, focusing more on immersive environments. As Lizzie Stark, writer of Leaving Mundania,
puts it, the focus is on: “trying out a certain mindset or exploring an emotion, rather than saving a town from orcs or finding enough loot to buy a sweet magic item.” What this means is that unlike traditional larp where players are encouraged to make their mark on the created world, Nordic larp encourages players to focus on developing the character through the game’s narrative. It encourages the players to experience the life and face the challenges of someone else’s life that exists in the real world. Europa, for example, is a larp that explores
the experiences of refugees. Players take on the lives of people escaping their own war-torn countries, and play out the real-life tensions that exist between ethnic groups and between government representatives. Now the idea of playing a refugee victim as a game may sound controversial, but its goal is to help players better understand the challenges of others. Larping, in all of its forms, has exploded in recent years as its communities continue to grow and its uses outside of gaming are being discovered. Larping is being used in different sorts of educational contexts as a tool for teaching languages, conflict resolution, team building, therapy or even a way to test theories in fields like economics and law. Larp is especially interesting from a psychological
standpoint. As Lizzie Stark writes, “The yearning to experience personal emotion is one of the hallmarks of the larp movement today. Many larpers want to experience emotions – the loss of a friend, the thrill of battle, the pain of betrayal – that they would never have occasion to feel in everyday life.” Unlike many other games, larping places demands
on both the body and mind. As Dr. Bowman, a researcher of role-playing communities, points out, players often end a game feeling exhausted and emotionally raw. A player’s larp character becomes an extension
of themselves as well as a form of escape. And some players even play the same character for years, so ending a game or losing the character entirely can be difficult. Add this to the intense emotional and physical content of the narrative, and players are likely to experience emotional highs during the game, but also lows that can manifest themselves in what’s known as post-larp depression. But don’t worry, many larps hold group debriefing events to help provide a sense closure and sort through feelings. And players may also perform an individual de-roling process to readjust to regular self after being in character. So larping is unique in that it allows its players to explore certain aspects of their self and their emotions that they wouldn’t necessarily have a chance to do in regular life. And to do so in a safe environment, supported
by a community. They allow the player to fully immerse themselves in their character, the story, and the game in a way that other games cannot. As David Ewalt, author of Of Dice and Men puts it, “LARPs are allowing this unique way to express yourself or put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s illuminating. I think we’d live in a much more interesting world if everyone tried a LARP.” So you thank you for playing the part of watching
this video and I’ll see you next week. Crash Course Games is filmed in the Chad and
Stacey Emigholz Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana, and it’s made with the help of all these nice
people. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for
everyone, forever, you can support the series at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows
you to support the content you love. Speaking of Patreon, we’d like to thank all
our patrons in general, and we’d like to specifically thank our High Chancellor of Knowledge, Morgan
Lizop, and our Vice Principal, Michael Hunt. Thank you for your support.

100 Comments on "LARP: Crash Course Games #26"


  1. Man that pic of me has got everywhere… Hi, I'm the saluting female Roman soldier near to the end 🙂

    Reply

  2. Saloon LARP is used to learn jewish history in our local jewish culture center. It is really fun!

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  3. As some of you may know, Living History groups are a step far above LARPing. Behold the Society for Creative Anachronism, founded in 1966, and not mentioned once in this video: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_Creative_Anachronism or if you wish http://sca.org … and tell them Greymon sent you.

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  4. You missed one, guys. Clearly medieval jousting is an ancestor of LARP, it's just that the players (knights and ladies) were playing the fictional versions of themselves (or members of their own social class) at first. By the Renaissance, it was very comparable to LARP, with gunpowder-age nobles playing sword-and-lance-age nobles.

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  5. SO THATS WHAT NEPTUNE MEANT IN HYPERDIMENSION NEPTUNIA REBIRTH 1 WHEN SHE SAID LARPING!!! I thought it was some inappropriate thing

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  6. I used to monster at Labyrinthe, nearly 30 years ago, the fact that this video knows about the place I'm really rather impressed about.

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  7. Since you touched on Nordic LARPing, I think it should be pointed out that the mentality of NL has actually spread out throughout all of LARPing in Scandinavia, which the basic idea of exploring novel/unique/alien life experiences being seen as the ultimate goal for an adult LARPer, with everything else being a benefit or bonus.

    For example, when I played an event-type salon LARP within the Vampire the Masquerade universe, I played a character that was the exact opposite of me and with characters traits I'd find deplorable in a person. It taught me a lot about how such a person functions, what drives them, and – ultimately – how similar to anyone else they really are. ^_^

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  8. For me, it will always be LRP; the A is redundant. Also, I think Treasure Trap ran for more than two years. I worked there.

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  9. I'm kind of surprised that the SCA, Society of Creative Anachronism, wasn't brought up. Though some may not consider it a game in a single-session sense, I think the argument could be made. Kind of an open ended, massively-multiplayer, years long kingdom building simulation/strategy game.

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  10. I know that there are a few too many LARPs to fit into one video, but I would've loved to see something about Amtgard in the video.

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  11. i wrote a paper about LARP last semester. if this video had been up at that time i would have saved myself a whole lot of research time. i still really enjoied this video and to hear all that stuff again and i apparently don't have any major errors in my paper 😀

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  12. I have once looked at a bottle cap on the road on the way home.
    I was about to pick it up, while i wondered whether it was genuine or just a worthless counterfeit.
    Then I remembered that I haven't been able to use bottle caps as payment in 3 days.

    Reply

  13. Long time LARPer here. i was a member on and off of the White Wolf Game inspired World of Darkness group called the Camarilla or now known as Mind's Eye Society. Helped create a local group that has come and gone, but has been fairly active the last 6 or 7 years. i met some great people through LARPing, and had lots of great time meeting people from around the World. I once had a very interesting conversation after a game session with a group from Vienna, Austria. Often even after the game, the social aspect and wind down time afterwards can be pretty amazing as well as the game itself.

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  14. A bit nitpicky, but LARP – Live Action Role-Play (no G), NPC – Non-Player Character.
    Love the series, guys. Keep 'em coming!

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  15. This is a great overview and very well done. Thanks. It doesn't touch on LARP for kids as much, which I run in the SF Bay Area, but I love that you mentioned the educational aspects. I have been using it as a teacher in my Montessori elementary and high school classes for years and we have done everything from historical reenactment to recreations of early humans. I currently run LARP for kids all over the SF Bay Area I can attest to the educational quality, immersive learning, and the potential for transforming kids through play. Thanks for this!

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  16. LARP for kids is really great force for social change. Check out the video and article for the SF Chronicle.
    http://www.sfchronicle.com/thetake/article/Kids-LARP-into-action-armed-with-foam-weapons-9243515.php

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  17. Over 30 years living on this earth as a nerd and gamer…never heard of LARP until now. Guess I don't hang around a true nerdy crowd. Cool idea but the execution seems lame. Why not have these people role play in a live action adventure game? Think Sword Art Online but with real people. You play until your character dies in combat or some DM event.

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  18. Larp often gets a bad rep from close-minded people or sensation-driven media outlets, so I'm glad to finally have a respectful and semi-comprehensive vid to show people who earnestly go "Larp? What's that?".

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  19. 😀 I love doing Medieval Combat 😀 My place hates calling it LARPing, they like calling it MCS

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  20. ive been thinking of larping for awhile.. well not thinking but wanting.. but i never knew where to go to larp

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  21. Event tomorrow for 9 and up in Palo Alto. Sunday in SF the adult league will be meeting. Come check it out if your interested.

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  22. How could you not mention Historic/Battlefield Re-enactments? I get that they're not exactly games, but if you considered "war games" worthy of mention in the RPG episode, I have to assume that historic re-enactments have had at least as much influence on LARPing, if not more.

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  23. why on earth would anyone want to nordic larp? real life is already annoying and stressful enough. let's play the role of someone in an even shittier situation than myself, sounds like a blast!

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  24. You forgot to mention that there don't have to be rules. There is a big scene that uses no objective rules or hitpoints or any thing like it. As well I wonder if there is a bigger LARP than the Conquest of Mythodea?

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  25. You may have heard of this Larp, it's quite famous: you play the successful version of yourself and you score point if other players like your sassy remarks aesthetic photos… it's called Facebook if i remember well.

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  26. Larp Fighting & Some Kind of Physical is good for The Body 😉 Also You Get Really Tired if you have a Gambeson

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  27. Did I miss it, or is there really no mention of Mind's Eye Society/By Nigth Games/Vampire The Masqerade LARPing?

    The game that transformed tabletop did more or less the same for LARPing too, and deserves all the accolades it can get.

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  28. Remember when you tried out for "Beauty and the Geek" and lost out to the LARPer? Yeah, that was me. Sorry you didn't make the show (you would have been fun to hang with), but you seem to be doing pretty well.

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  29. So where does something like war re-enactment fit into this? Or those dinner & a murder mystery type of things?

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  30. I used to think a lot less of larping till I went and realised it's for people with shall we say, issues?
    I wish people learned some useful skills instead but I suppose that takes effort
    It's kind of a sweet way to bridge people who have zero social skills or well other skills either really, with people who do

    It's an escapism for people who wish desperately they were someone else or feel totally unfulfilled by their own true path

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  31. Maybe they should have mentioned that great 2008 comedy, 'Role Models,' which heavily featured LARP-ing?

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  32. up to this day I still don't why you call roleplay larp now I do and I'm playing as a wizard with the abilities of mind control tommorow wish me luck

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  33. guys I'm going to be knight task to save 15 lives (2 being rogue bandits that will crush me) wish me luck

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  34. Fascinating. This seems to me to be an adult version of the pretend games children often play, though obviously this is much more complex. I can remember using a lot of these elements, including developing detailed characters that we would keep from game to game and inventing plots and so on.

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  35. I never would have guessed that Dag started out like that. Nowadays it's full of stick-jocks that are more interested in beating the snot out of you rather than roleplay.

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  36. thumbs up for recognising larps from outside the US [although you could have also mentioned Germanys Drachenfest [one of the biggest larp biggest events in Europe] and Cannada's biccoline [which has a MASSIVE permenant Site with player owned and built buildings].

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  37. Cosplayer here (anime) and been looking to branch out into fantasy LARPing. However, i use a wheelchair to move as my only means of mobility. Fantasy and medieval rp doesn't seem very chair friendly, or am i wrong? Could this actually work out? Also need to find my character.

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  38. "Demonstrative, Salon, Live Steel" – Those are not universal categories in LARP, and sound like they come from a very specific subset of one specific LARP culture. Games in the US are far more commonly classified into "boffer" and "parlor" LARP – but which again is a distinction which is non-existant in Europe, where quite different national and transnational categories exist, as "games with or without combat" is not a meaningful distinction there.

    By no means do all LARPs need or have an extensive set of rules. Games in the Nordic and in many European traditions can be virtually rules-free – and can be much closer to improvisational theatre. Very extensive rule sets are more a hallmark of US LARP in particular.

    Dagorhir might or might not have been the first so recognized LARP worldwide, but many LARP cultures have evolved completely independently of that (The scene in Russia, for example, evolved out of re-creating stories from Lord of the Rings, while in Germany, fantasy play-by-mail games and an active reenactment scene were important precursors), so to say that Dagorhir has "shaped the way we see LARP" is probably true for the US, but not for the world as a whole. Dagorhir and its counterparts would probably not even qualify as LARP for most European LARPers, due to a very low focus on actual roleplaying.

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  39. I’m an actor playing a LARPer in a role coming up believe it or not. This video was excellent! 😂 thank you 🙏🙏🙏

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  40. This is great! I’m glad I found this video. I love the Crash Course approach to explaining things. The history section was super informative.

    Reply

  41. "LARP sharing the themes and setting of Vampire the Masquerade"
    I do that! Just… not in a way that's very public friendly

    Reply

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