Will it become important for people to watch larp? I ask as it seems that at least in British if not in western culture that importance comes from a shared experience. That watching is by far the easiest way to achieve that. Just think of how deeply sports and more recently reality shows have embedded themselves in the consciousnesses of nations. A great deal of this success seems to stem from how easily something can be viewed instead of being done.

This puts larp at a bit of a disadvantage. Larp is all about participation. It is not about viewing. In fact for good reasons larp groups shun audiences. Two of these are

  • Immersion – its hard to lose yourself in a story if someone is watching, and looking for your next cool line. Possibly applauding your actions.
  • Safety – Want to watch a vast rolling battle with hundreds of participants. You’d better know how to avoid getting caught up in the action for your own safety.

Letting people see larp is a better solution to trying to explain it. As many larpers have found out – finding the words to adequately explain larp to an non larper; or worse someone outside of geek culture is not easy.

So what can we do about this?

To start with we can circulate more great photos and videos. In fact this has been one of the greatest trends that I’ve noticed in larp over the last few years. That being the increasing number of talented photographers and videographers out there doing great work. The importance of this and their achievements cannot be underestimated.

However good this is – you still cannot dip in and out of a larp; or looked at highlights from an event. These are the tools of mass media and larp in general does not do this. Yet these could make all the difference. Consider these 2 pieces of anecdotal evidence.

  1. Henry Golding from the BBCs travel show spent time recording Fairweather Manor 3 last year. I had a chance to chat about his experience and one line stuck. He was stunned by the quality of acting that came from the larpers present. He hadn’t expected that.
  2. When I’ve shown non-larpers well shot pieces of larp footage that did not include combat but instead where character studies their interest levels went up. They immediately looked for the story hook. So often we don’t show our strongest hand – storytelling.

This suggests to me that we not need to talk about larp. We need to let people watch larp. Somehow we need to do this without putting an audience into a game as that is really a non-starter.

The next step might be to follow what happens in some conferences and reality shows. A recorded live stream. Live so people can watch as suits and recorded so a presenter can introduce key scenes.

Technically this is an enormous challenge. I can have the idea – but cannot give you the recipe on how to do this.

So how about this. LARPBook has been investing in film-making tech so we will try and improve how we cover things – and distribute the lessons from our experience. That may help some people. An even bigger help would be if the larp hive mind thought about this. In Larp there are a great many highly skilled people. People who could come up with answers to this problem. Also lets not look for the ultimate solution for all larps. Lets look for appropriate solutions for some larps. How about a journey of lots of small steps, all learning from each other, promoting the hobby as we go and seeing what we can achieve.


The image for this post comes from Flickr User Davidd. You can learn more about this image and its licence here.

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