The following is a transcript of the NELCO 2013 Series Question 1 video – How do you define LARP?

See the video here.

NELCO 2013 Question 1 Transcript

Out of Character talked to theater-style LARPers at NELCO 2013.  Each was asked 3 questions.

Question 1: How do you define LARP? And how would you describe it to someone new?


Sparrow: A LARP is a simulation of some kind, where you play roles, and as opposed to other types of role play, including internet role play and table-top, where you narrate actions that are taken, like “My character walks into the room and says to the other people that they are so upset about whatever has happened,” you actually walk into the room and start shouting at people who have displeased you, or your character as it were.

Laura: It depends who I am talking to. If I am explaining it to someone who knows very little about this kind of thing I generally go with, “Well it’s like a cross between improv theater and like Dungeons and Dragons.”

Tory: The bastard child of Dungeons and Dragons and improv theater.

Kevin: It depends a lot on what their background is, if they’ve got tabletop background then “Well its like table top but you’re standing up moving around.”

Melanie: If you have that concept, you have this character, you have these goals you have these motivations plus you’re on your feet interacting your playing off of other people you’re, you know, your doing your thing.  But you’re not in theater where you stand and tell your lines to the audience.

Alex: Well I guess I would say that live action role play is taking on a character and using acting or roleplaying skills to pursue the goals of that character.

Thomas: Taking on the role of another character and actually doing as much as is possible and physically safe and such, what they would do.

Michael: You have to make decisions on what happens next based on the context you’ve been given and the other characters that you’re playing with.

Andy: If you are walking around the room and talking to people you are doing live action roleplying. If you are exclusively sitting in a chair, you’re probably not doing live action roleplaying

Vik: The thing that you do when you are a kid and you’re reading a book, and you start imagining yourself as a character in the book. And this kind of what  you get to do – be part of the story.

Lily: In theatrical LARPing you get a fairly defined character before you start that was created by somebody else so it it’s kind of like a mix of theater with scripts and improve meeting somewhere in the middle

Alex: I’ve done a fair amount acting as well role playing and I tend to draw the line at whether you’re trying to achieve something. That if I just come into a room with a group of people and I play a role but I don’t have any particular goal to achieve in that context, then to me I’m doing an acting exercise. I’m doing some improve.  Which is great – I like doing that – but the thing that makes me feel like I’m roleplaying instead is that I’m in a context where there is a setting and a plot, and I have goals within that plot.

Andy: But you asked me how I would describe it to somebody… alright, actually, How I would explain it to somebody for the first time non-facetiously.  I’d say its a children’s game make-believe but with rules so we avoid the “bang-bang, you’re-dead, no-I’m-not” problem

Vik: I also talk about it as like what kids do in playing pretend games which we have all done to some degree or another except this is done by largely adults and with more sophisticated and complicated plot lines, more sophisticated characters and more sort of codified, more rules.

Chris: You know when we’re five we pretend that we’re super hero and that our best friend is the villain that is seeking to take over the world and our goal is to stop him in some fashion and have our dramatic moment.   That to me is the most basic essence of what LARP is.  That it’s a chance for us to kind of return to childhood and make-believe a little bit.


How do I define it? That’s actually way harder than I thought.

LARP is like tabletops but you move around.

LARP is being physically immersive in playing your character.

LARP is…  How do I define LARP?

It’s live action role playing.