Larp is a type of game where players physically portray their characters, and interact with other characters as if they are inhabiting the world their characters do. Most larp happens in person, but digital larp is becoming increasingly popular.
What Is a Digital Larp?
Digital larp (live action role playing) is a type of social game played primarily over technology, such as the internet. It involves all components of in-person larp except the physicality (potentially being able to reach out and touch others in a role play environment). Digital larps typically rely upon audio and video as primary means of communication, and usually include an organizer, GM (game master), or facilitator.
Digital larps can be immersive and just like in-person larps, may or may not occasionally rely on narrated description. The digital format lends itself especially well to larps focused on social combat, politics, and interpersonal interactions.
Some larps may not be fully digital. For example, in some larps, several participants may interact in person, but some participants may use an electronic means of participation. This has occurred at the blockbuster larp Event Horizon (known for incorporating technology into larp) and Project A.T.H.E.N.A., a digital superhero larp by The Geek Initiative.
Tools for Digital Larp
Most often, digital larp involves audiovisual technology. If you have a mobile device and an internet connection, there are some free tools available to help you:
- Discord: Used by gamers, Discord allows you to create and coordinate your games. Video is now available for groups, and many organizers use Discord to coordinate all types of games and facilitate role play.
- Skype: Participants can also larp over Skype. You can have up to 10 people on the call.
- Google Hangouts: On Google Hangouts, up to 10 participants can dial in using voice and video.
Broadcasting Digital Larp
The Geek Initiative often broadcasts our digital larps on Twitch. You can view the archives of the broadcasts on the TGI YouTube Channel. We also run non-broadcasted (archived, uploaded) runs, and “closed runs,” which are private and do not get broadcasted at all.
Digital Larp’s Place in an In-Person Campaign Larp
Digital Larps can facilitate collaborative storytelling and role play between in-person events. In 2017, The Game Theatre commissioned The Geek Initiative to run three ‘mirror mission’ adventures for this purpose—creating a larp and MegaGame hybrid for their setting of choice. We’re also working on Cyberpunk: Night City with Jackalope Live Action Studios for a full digital integration (2019).
Do Players Wear Costumes in Digital Larps?
Just like in-person larps, that depends on the type of larp, the game, and the preferences of the organizers and players.
Accessibility and Digital Larps
Digital larps tend to be more accessible than in-person games. This is due to several factors:
- No transportation required
- Lower cost (varies)
- Ideal for people with chronic illnesses and disabilities
- Since no travel is required, digital larps also fit into a student or working person’s schedule
- Free resources (see “Tools for Digital Larp” above)
What Do You Need to Play?
The setup is simple:
- Computer with headset or mic (must have a setup that eliminates feedback)
- Private space in which to participate
- Ability to connect to Google Hangouts
- Access to Facebook messenger
The Geek Initiative offers free or low-cost accessibility tickets. These subsidized tickets allow marginalized larpers to participate. We recognize that often, larp isn’t a friendly and inclusive place for marginalized people (including the financially disadvantaged), and we want to make every effort to be inclusive.
What Does Digital Larp Look Like?
To get an understanding of digital larp, check out the aforementioned YouTube channel or view the CHARIOT LARP trailer below:
Tara M. Clapper of The Geek Initiative is a current innovator in the world of digital larps. She and her team offer a number of services, including consultation and bespoke remote larp experiences for your private groups in any setting or genre. Tara and her team can help you integrate Digital larp into your games and provide character creation services. Please direct all questions and inquiries to [email protected]