The following is a transcript of the NELCO 2013 Series Question 2 video – Is LARP a type of Game or an Art form?

See the video here.

NELCO 2013 Question 2 Transcript

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

Question 2: Is LARP a game, or an art?


Mel: Calling LARPs art to me is almost, is almost, insulting because the word “art” is so cheap. I would almost define myself more as a live-action-gamer than a live-action-roleplayer because the game is definitely very important to me. And yeah, depending on your definition of art, it’s art – but, most importantly to me, it is definitely a game.

Michael: When it gets art, it’s always thought of as being experimental so the defacto norm is that it’s not art, it’s a game.

Laura: Of course LARPs can be art. Of course LARP is a form of creative expression. Like, what are you even talking about? Of course it is.  LARPs can be beautiful. LARPs can be moving. LARPS can just be physically exhilarating. LARPs can be terrible. They can be bad art.

Alex: All the components of it have the capacity to be art. I don’t necessarily think that every LARP is artistic sometimes you have a LARP that is pure gameplay and not gameplay that necessarily expresses some further emotional or intellectual concept and I think without some kind of advanced expression you’re not really doing art per se.

Kevin: LARP is made up of other art forms so that’s my argument for it being an art form in its own right – if it is composed of art.

Alex: The writing alone can be art. The writing of the character sheet or backstory can be art. Buildings sets and props – there can be a lot of artistry involved in that. And I think that acting is art, and so I believe that roleplay is art.

Michael: If the point of art is to sort of make an expression then there’s some aspect is that in the development but once it hits the players, it’s a game.

Chris: It can be game in the sense of: its interactive, it has things that must you must do – maybe puzzles, mechanics. It has some game-like elements to it. But I do think that, in some cases, it is also an art form. And it has a place purpose to be an art form.

Vik: I find that in most LARPs there is play. Where there’s play and there are rules – it’s what I call a game.

Lily: Insofar as a novel you read or a play you watch, or a video game you play is art, then, yeah, a LARP can be art equally. That said, there’s a little bit of a danger to the just-defining-it-as-art category. Just because a lot of people, when they say “my work is art,” what they mean is my work is ineffable and beyond criticism. And frankly nothing created by a person is that.


Ah – you got you got a game in my art.

Arg – you got art in my game.

I’m kinda like… guys…


Sparrow: I feel like the LARP is Art people are overrepresented in the, you know, Being-theater-LARPers-who-talk-at-length population, but the LARP as game definitely exists. It’s a valid way as spending, you know, an afternoon or a weekend.

Thomas: I think they’re a sort of game. But I also think that many games are art. And that there is no reason that one cannot be devoted to making good games that are an artform. I certainly find myself interested in the art of games.

Andy: I don’t like the word art, because everyone now wants to get on one side the other. It is art. It isn’t art. I think they’re entertainment. I think they’re cooperative entertainment. And have a lot of game-like elements, and sometimes they can have art-like elements, but at the heart for me they’re entertainment.

Tory: I approach LARPs more as an experience – an experience of emotion, an experience of character, so on and so forth – than I do as a game to be won.  So I suppose maybe I would come down more on the art side. But, really, I consider them experiences. I haven’t thought much about the capital “A” word.

Kevin: There are senses of aesthetic wins and non-aesthetic wins, maybe? There is someone who could win their game without doing so aesthetically, and that would be bad LARP. And similarly LARPing very aesthetically but not being very effective in the game is maybe something that I.. its a choice that people can make. I try not to judge that. I’m not always successful.

Vik: I don’t think all LARPs are art. I think all are games. Well, no. Not all are art and not all are games, but I think a lot – most probably – are both.