Posted by: Montola | December 22, 2010

Nordic Larp

During the last 18 months, Jaakko and I have been working with editing our next book. Like with Pervasive Games, we are still working design, history and societal significance with embodied forms of play. However, Nordic Larp is also quite different: We have enlisted a number of authors, putting together stories from 30 outstanding live action role-playing games from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Like pervasive event games and ARGs, larps are ephemeral games: After the games are played, they are gone and the only way to learn from them is through stories. So we wanted to write a history book of the incredible Nordic larp movement, as the important, brilliant and innovative games of the last 15 years would otherwise be surely forgotten in 2020.

Nordic Larp

Steampunk starships.
Animatronic dragons.
Cancer patients.

In the Nordic countries, live-action role-playing has developed into a unique and powerful form of expression. Nordic larps range from entertaining flights of fancy to the exploration of the intimate, the collective and the political. This incredible tradition combines influences from theatre and performance art with gamer cultures, in order to push the boundaries of role-playing.

Nordic Larp presents a critical cross section of this vibrant culture through 30 outstanding larps, combining stories told by designers, players and researchers with over 250 photographs of play and preparations. In addition the book contains two essays that explain the history and rhetorics of Nordic larp, and contextualizes it in relation to theatre, art and games.

As the book is a highly visual photo book with pages larger than A4, I recommend you to peek inside (make sure you see full spreads). For a pervasive gaming enthusiast, the book includes stories of several pervasive larps ranging from a meeting of mad scientists on a cruise ship to the high-end production Momentum you have surely heard of already. Additionally, Jaakko concludes the book with an essay titled Nordic Larp: Theatre, Art and Game; if you are interested in the artistic relevance of pervasive gaming, that essay is almost directly applicable to pervasive games played in events such as Come Out & Play, Hide & Seek and Playground.

Said about Nordic Larp:

“Nordic Larp is a rare and vivid glimpse into a fascinating gaming tradition. If anyone knows how to imagine better worlds and build a more engaging reality, it’s larpers.”
Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken

“The rise of the ars ludorum is not confined to the bombastic power fantasies of the videogame but is manifest all over the globe in diverse ways, from the doujin games of Japan to the passionate intensity of the indie games movement to the rise of the Euro-style board game. Not least among these movements is larp, brought to its apotheosis in the Nordic countries, where vast, imaginative works of enormous artistic ambition receive attention not only from game geeks but from their national cultures as well. This vital phenomenon is now accessible to English speakers through this landmark work, an anthology of articles describing some of the most impressive and compelling works of the form. Anyone seriously interested in role-play, interactive narrative, and the collision between games and theater will find it of enormous interest.”
Greg Costikyan, Game Designer

“Now evolved far from its roots in genre consumption and modification, the progressive Nordic live roleplaying scene is building the tools for participatory performance that artists internationally will be using for generations to come. Nordic Larp is the first book to put the community’s key pieces in one easily digestible and visually seductive format.”
Brody Condon, Artist

This hefty tome is definitely worth all the extra publicity we can spare: Jaakko Stenros and Markus Montola have done major cultural service to game, culture and art studies (as well as to the history) by collecting and putting together an amazing volume of photos, descriptive texts and cultural essays to celebrate the fine art of live action role-playing, Nordic style. Great work, congratulations.
Frans Mäyrä, Professor of Digital Culture and Game Studies

Since the book was largely done pro bono, and funded generously by cultural foundations, we have been able to seriously push the price down. Order your own copy here!

For review copies and such, contact Jaakko or myself at


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Slash Morgath. Slash Morgath said: Nordic Larp « Pervasive Games: Theory and Design: In the Nordic countries, live-action role-playing has develope… […]

  2. […] since going to Arse Elektronika I’ve been fascinated by the idea of Nordic Larping as a way to prototype experience and take deep but time constrained emotional dives.  A little […]

  3. […] “look where I am” check-in apps to sticky social games and even theatrical experiences such as LARPS (live action role playing), we become part of the participatory, viral […]

  4. […] “look where I am” check-in apps to sticky social games and even theatrical experiences such as LARPS (live action role playing), we become part of the participatory, viral […]

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