Posted by: Montola | April 8, 2009

Pervasive Larps

Larp, the Universe and Everything — the book for Knutepunkt 2009 — is trickling into the Web in pdf format already. Only one third of it is up there as I write, but on a quick glance, there seems to be only two papers on pervasive forms of larp this year.

The authors of this blog wrote Philosophies and Strategies of Pervasive Larp Design, a paper is about Why:s and How:s of pervasive larps. We mapped some six approaches into pervasive larp design and and some 20 techniques people have used to pursue those approaches. The paper is a kind of a toolkit, where you first select what you want to do, and then pick and choose your way through the strategies in order to make that thing happen. Then again, like any design kit, the paper also serves as an analytical tool.

In addition to our paper, look at Eirik Fatland’s excellent paper Excavating AmerikA. AmerikA was one of the earliest larps having powerful ambitions on artistic expression, societal dialogue and production values, and you can see its clear influences in e.g. System Danmarc 2. I have never seen any published documentation on it before Fatland’s story; for some reason it took ten years before anyone got into it. Turns out that the game was much more pervasive than I was aware.


AmerikA on a central Oslo square

Among other things, AmerikA was also about play in public spaces and about interactions with outsiders. For instance, they almost ended up in a fight with an arrogant television crew, apparently in a surreal situation where the TV people refused to step inside the frame role-play and the larpers refused to step out of it.

They also played with outsiders explicitly:

My own lens to AmerikA was through playing the character of Aronsen, the junk dealer. Our shop, mine and my assistants’, was an old bus, with half on the inside and half on the outside of the wall that surrounded AmerikA. We would buy items of interest from the citizens of AmerikA on the inside, and resell them to shoppers on the outside. Each customer was told not just the price of the artefacts, but also their history – “This lighter here may seem old and insignificant, but in fact, it was once used by a young man to light the cigarette of a young woman whom he had just met but would subsequently marry. And this old typewriter…”

Later on Fatland goes on to discuss how difficult it was to play Aronsen with outsiders; they even closed down the outsider end of it because the role-play with outsiders did not work in this explicit context.

I really look forward to Knutepunkt, Oslo. But first: Fastaval, Århus.

Photograph by Britta Bergersen, quoted from Larp, the Universe and Everything.


  1. […] Playground Worlds was published in Solmukohta 2008. We covered this year’s book, called Larp, the Universe and Everything, earlier. […]

  2. […] Mondo Larp abbiamo già parlato di Izgon (potete leggere la mia recensione a questo link), il gioco di ruolo pervasivo (ossia giocato continuamente per settimane, rigorosamente dal vivo, anche e soprattutto durante la […]

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