The Benefits Of Online Larping

When the pandemic rolled around, we mourned the loss of in-person larping; video- and text-chat, we said, would never fill the hole in-person events left. And they didn’t. But online larps have their advantages; more than many larpers, pre-pandemic, gave them credit for. And now that the pandemic’s rolling back, it’s worth taking the time to list them.

Distance Is No Object

Live in a big city, maybe you can find a Vampire larp nearby. Live near a campground, maybe there are boffer larpers near you. But if you’re not so lucky, getting to other larpers requires time and transportation — and getting a good space for a larp, especially a big one, can be pretty expensive. Avast on these barriers to entry! Online larps you can play even if you live far from extant larp communities, even if your transportation options are limited, without transit time and without rental overhead. For some these advantages seem tiny — but for folks who live isolated or rural, limited by transit or money, it can be the difference between larping sometimes and never larping at all.

Immersion Is No Longer Expensive

Relatedly, on the creator end, immersion is no longer expensive to create. Gone are the days when to make a larp seem “real,” you had to have the budget to rent Bryn Mwar College or Castle Elsinore; all a videochat larp needs is delicious backgrounds, and a phone larp some fantastic sound design. This means that making professional-grade larps is now within reach for many more creators — and therefore accessible to many more players who want a more polished experience.

(For more on this, listen to Eric Molinsky talk about sound design for The Girl On The Phone, or read Strange Bird Immersive’s article on designing Zoom backgrounds for The Strange Secret Of Mr. Adrien Rook.)

Play With People From Different Time Zones

Online larping has made mockery of distance, letting people in New York larp with people from Paris and Milan. This sort of thing is frankly invaluable; it pulls new ideas, tools and techniques into old coteries, creates new communities, cracks cliques, and solders friendships that would otherwise be impossible. Even post-pandemic this is not the sort of thing people want to let go; on the contrary, facebook groups like “Remote, Digital & Live-Action Online Games” have sprung up to cater to an online-savvy international player base and keep the momentum going.

All hail cross-pollination!

Newbie-Friendly Formats Arise

Distance makes people daring — in online discourse, yes, but also in larp, where curious newcomers often feel more comfortable metaphorically dipping their toes in the water online. Why? Well, many online larps run in formats less intimidating than a regular face-to-face meeting; in Mirror World Creations’ Hero Time, for instance, players largely speak to each other in text chat. Online larps are also often shorter than their physical-world cousins, running a mere two hours or one rather than a day or a weekend. Moreover, the lack of overhead online makes running solo or super-small larps, as well as tutorials, no longer cost-prohibitive (unusually shameless plug here: all of Mirror World’s phone larps can be run for solo players, most for pairs, and Mirror World’s videochat larp Debrief can be run as a solo larp, a paired larp, or as a tutorial for one or two players).

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P.S. Some Shameless Plugs

Interested in more? Well, we’ve provided links to all the larps we’ve mentioned, but in case you want to hear about our larps in particular…

Contact is a two-hour larp written specifically for video chat. It is a Star-Trek-style sci-fi LARP of discovery, trust, and dilemma. Contact is written for four people, and usually that means you have to find three other friends to play it with. But on June 12th, we’re running a special event where anyone can jump right in and join the story. Sign up for Contact now, choose a character, and you can work together with new friends to solve a morally twisted sci-fi paradox.

Similarly, Hero Time is a two-hour larp of heroic historical research written specifically for Discord; Hero Time is written for three people, and usually that means you have to find two other friends to play it with. But on June 10th, we’re running a special event where anyone can jump right in and join the story. Sign up for Hero Time now, choose a character, and you can work together with new friends to travel back in time to take on WWII.

Debrief is a Cold War ghost story also built for videochat; a tale of intrigue and betrayal, it can be played solo or with a partner. Our intro-to-larping tutorial also uses Debrief as its base.

The Girl On The Phone is a one hour play-as-yourself larp written specifically for the phone. When a kidnapped woman calls you, begging for aid, can you help her escape her captors?

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mirrorworldcreations.com

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