Larp theory

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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.[1] This was later adopted into a larp-specific Three Way Model, which highlighted Immersion by replacing the Simulationist agenda with an Immersionist one.[2] An alternative was the Focus of Interaction theory, which divided larps using a two-axis model of interaction and mechanics.[3] 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;

Larp theory is studied both as part of academic games studies courses, and at specific conferences such as NELCO, Knutepunkt, Living Games, KOLA and Wyrdcon.

See also


  1. John Kim, The Threefold Model FAQ. October 16, 1998. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  2. Petter Bøckman, The Three Way Model: Revision of the Threefold Model for Scandinavian LARP. April 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  3. Mike Young (2003), "The Spectrum of LARP". In The Book of LARP, Interactivities, Ink, 2003.

External links