How much Technology should there be in a Larp?

If you listen to Fear the Boot, or other RPG podcasts, you’ll know that table top gamers have a terrible time with digital devices and social media. Fantasy Larp to a greater extent is free from the same intrusions, because we specifically remove modern items from our kit when playing. How much modern tech do we want to include in our larping experience? This is not a rhetoric question, I really don’t know. Empire’s pictures are really amazing, btw. Definitely check out their War Rhino.

Orcs vs Photographer! Empire Larp
This post features the two pics, that may not look so great, but are on topic for this post. There are hundreds which look amazing. The small sample here are in no way indicative of the high quality of the overwhelming majority of pictures form that event. With that disclaimer aside, on to the topic!
The main way I see technology creeping in to fantasy larp is through cameras. Recording video and pictures of an event is very tempting. On one hand we want to have a record of the awesome time we just had. Games may want to inspire FOMO in people who didn’t attend. Clever use of social media can help grow a game system (theoretically).
Photographer in the background at Empire Larp
But on the other hand how much tech and social media access is too much? At what point are we filming ourselves filming each other? If every character has a phone or camera pointed at every other character does that detract from the look of the game system? If players aren’t hiding their phones and cameras suspension of disbelief may be compromised. Devices are not going to get less connected over time. Today’s camera is going to be a social media platform in a few years. And phones are going to become movie quality recording devices. Soon it may not make sense to prevent them access from any setting.
For a fantasy game there are three logical extremes. 1.) Embrace the tech, and ignore it in game. 2.) Allow some limited technology on the field, and attempt to make it as subtle as possible 3.) Full Luddite. No tech, no pictures. You have to have been present to have any access to the experience.
Allowing full tech could be very helpful in branding, blogging, and growing the larp. If it looks like you’re having an awesome time, then more people will be interested in showing up. Although most people are going to be using their phones as cameras social media could creep onto the field during play. Most fantasy larps in general have a no tech policy, so I would not expect to see selfies taken in combat. But quite moments around the campfire, are tempting fodder for mind occupying social media checks.
For me the right answer feels like 2. Ban phones. Allow a limited number of cameras, by designated people, to record what happens on the field. Establish that number and who ahead of time. For my goPro camera, I have a tripod mount. At The Goblin War V I intend to mount it in one location before a battle. Film that battle and then take it down afterward. It should not be one player. It won’t be mounted on me. This should keep the camera itself from showing up in other pictures.
Planetfall a new Larp in Austin Tx
If we step out of the fantasy setting, what happens when we start to set larp in a future setting? That might be an issue for a later date. A modern/future setting not only would have social media present, but it might also include apps which adjunct the rules of the game. This could lead to some Shadowrun style larps croping up. Or perhaps a far future game like Planetfall.

If you want to chat about using tech in larp you can message me directly by tweeting @jspringfied211. You can comment, ask questions, and provide suggestions for this post on my Google Plus feed (it attracts less spam than my website). And finally you can find me on as @larp

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s