What has LARP to do with VR?

What is Live Action Roleplaying, and why am I using it to work with VR?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Live Action Roleplaying or larp, the definition that satisfies me the most – but each larper is likely to have their own – is “improvisation theater without an audience”.

It is a very wide field, with endless formats and themes, a dedicated community and a lot of documentation and theory.

My research doesn’t revolve around larp per se, meaning there will be some generalization, subjectivity and shortcuts in this blog on the field.
The biggest shortcut is that I’ll mostly refer to character-based larp, close to the Nordic style: not abstract larp, not combat larp, not strategy larp, etc. Those genres and many other exist, please do not take my few words on the subject ad litteram.

Most of the time, larp uses design techniques and scripted events as to structure the experience and give it directions. Some have extensive sets of rules and some are very free.

The motivations to participate to such events can be the desire to explore a character, a universe, a narration, as well as human relationships.

My experience of larp leads me to think that embodying a character along with interacting with other humans adds levels of engagement, or, what is commonly called “immersion”.

In narrative games (adventure, story based, RPG) the player is limited in their ability to embody their character. In 360 video, the audience is forced into the skin of a character they can hardly appropriate.
This fracture between what a user would like to communicate and their available options depletes heir engagement in the experience.

Larp offers an alternative that allows you to embody fully your character: your voice, your movements, your phrasing, your emotion (or the one you want to convey, precisely).

You do not fake being in a first-person experience, and that’s this level of engagement that I’d like to bring to VR.

In other words, the reason why I’m working with larp for VR game design is because the experience I want to pull out can be broken down into the same categories of engagement as some larps.

Of course there are some limitations that I won’t develop here (well, I will, eventually), because I consider the big leap in engagement from current narrative video games to larp to be a sufficient statement.

You can find more of my reflection on the theory of immersion category here.

And, although the following classification is adjusted to my project, the reference regarding the categorization of immersive levels in larp is there.

Levels of Engagement

I’m working with five types of engagement that can be common to larp and VR.

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>>>>>> Development to come ASAP

To sum it up:

In Lone Wolves Stick Together, you play a character, which is part of a narration, following a scripted path in a virtual environment. There are various game mechanics that are intended to shape the experience which you can play with, and most importantly, there is human interaction.

Although the game exists now as a larp, which is viable in this form, I’ve designed it keeping in mind that the end goal was VR. The themes, ambiance and artistic intentions all came from a reflection on VR.
Hopefully, bringing the current larp to VR won’t be a transposition, but a realization.

During that process we’ll get to learn how much the VR experience will have to differ in design from the larp to be playable; and how much of this difference is to be attributed to state of the art technology.

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