Does Online LARP work?

During the current COVID 19 pandemic, only LARP events with a very small number of players and a correspondingly small scale can take place. An alternative is obvious: simply hold LARP events online. Similar to home office or homeschooling, however, this only works to a limited extent.

What is “Online LARP” anyway?

Pen & paper role-playing games have been around for a long time, even online – even before Corona, in order to be able to play together despite large distances. So what are the differences? In P&P, you describe your character’s actions narratively. In LARP, you do it directly through your character – even via webcam.

Animus logo (image by Chaosleague)

My first and so far only online LARP event was Animus by Chaosleague. This was organised at the very beginning of the pandemic in Europe. We, the players, played participants in an online therapy session in the modern world with assigned characters. The information was sent ahead of time so that we had enough time to prepare a disguise and background for the character. The LARP worked wonderfully because the setting was right. And the advantage of modernity: if something doesn’t work with the technology, you can still stay in character.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of online LARP compared to conventional LARP?

Little to no financial costs because all participants cover their own basic needsWhere technology and people meet, there will be mistakes – it is important to make a plan in advance how to deal with short and long term failures
The barriers to conflict roleplay are lower because there is no longer physical intimidationTouching and physical proximity is helpful for many interactions, not only in conflict play
In times of Corona, it is sometimes the only option Movements are more difficult, role-playing tends to take place in the same space
It’s great for those who like character interaction, because that is the focus in online LARPThe choice of setting and number of players are severely limited

So does online LARP work?

Yes, I can testify from my own experiences and from friends that online LARP events can be very emotional and immersive. However, two areas are crucial in contrast to conventional LARP:

  • The setting, because you are severely limited in space and possibilities and have to struggle with technical difficulties as the case may be
  • The number of players has to be chosen more carefully because only one person at a time can speak/interact intelligibly, whereas group formation in conventional LARP is more dynamic

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