Larp theory is the study of live-action roleplaying games as a social or artistic phenomenon. It is a subfield of role-playing game theory.
Early analysis of larp used John Kim's Threefold Model, which postulated three competing creative agendas: Gamist, Dramatist, and Simulationist. This was later adopted into a larp-specific Three Way Model, which highlighted Immersion by replacing the Simulationist agenda with an Immersionist one. An alternative was the Focus of Interaction theory, which divided larps using a two-axis model of interaction and mechanics. Normative theories also emerged, in the form of the anti-gamist Dogma 99 manifesto, and the pro-Immersion Manifesto of the Turku School.
Later works of larp theory moved on from analysing and arguing about larp's creative agendas to a broader set of questions, such as:
- The definition of larp, and the relationship between larp and larp-like activities such as (Danish) freeform gaming, pervasive games, Alternate Reality Games, theatre, and educational simulation;
- Whether larp can be art;
- Identification and analysis of key concepts of larp, such as immersion, bleed and steering;
- Study and comparison of different styles of larp and different larp cultures;
- Ways of classifying larp;
- The formation and dynamics of larp communities;
- Ethics of larp, both in play and organisation;
- John Kim, The Threefold Model FAQ. October 16, 1998. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- Petter Bøckman, The Three Way Model: Revision of the Threefold Model for Scandinavian LARP. April 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- Mike Young (2003), "The Spectrum of LARP". In The Book of LARP, Interactivities, Ink, 2003.
- Role-playing game theory at Wikipedia