Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pervasive LARP Design

Thanks go out to Dan Comstock for finding This Little Gem. It's a chapter or part of a book that talks about all the strategies involved in Pervasive LARP designs (which can also be known as Alternate Reality Gaming or ARG).

This is an interesting read for anyone who's interested in participating in, or even better, running one of these games.

This is kind of a sidetrack from our normal discussions about combat based LARPs, because Pervasive LARPs are more social than combative. Still Interesting.

Just wondering, would the readers of this blog participate in a pervasive, social LARP if given the chance?

PS: Anyone know what the full book is called or if it's even out?


  1. I think that essay was published in Knutepunkt, which is an academic journal focused on LARPs. It's always a good read, even if they're often talking about a very foreign style of game.

    The group that wrote it runs this website: which has a number of interesting games listed.

    Not all pervasive games are ARGs... for example, White Wolf's "One World by Night" is a pervasive game that still involves fictional personae.

    I love the idea of the pervasive game.. the Dreaming was my hack at it. I really enjoyed how when I was walking around in the woods behind my house in the Dreaming, it really felt like a different space from when I was just walking around normally. Or how Squires Park took on an entirely new meaning for you guys.

  2. Pervasive LARPs and ARGs are different, though closely related both though would be classified as pervasive games. Dan C. is correct that the particular article referenced is from a KP (Knutpunkt) book, the 2009 one in particular, which you can find here: All KP books are free to download (in PDF format). Links to the books can be found here under history. Visit each year's site and you should be able to track down all the PDF books.

    The key differences between an ARG and a pervasive LARP is that of player characters and pre-defined and written down rules. The Wikipedia entry on ARGs has a really good, though short, write-up on the differences and similarities between a LARP (even a pervasive one) and an ARG. "Role-playing games (RPGs) and Live action role-playing games (LARPs). The role of the puppetmaster in creating ARG narratives and the puppetmaster's relationship with an ARG's players bears a great deal of similarity to the role of a game master, gamemaster or referee in a role-playing game. However, the role of the players is quite different. Most ARGs do not have any fixed rules—players discover the rules and the boundaries of the game through trial and error—and do not require players to assume fictional identities or roleplay beyond feigning belief in the reality of the characters they interact with (even if games where players play 'themselves' are a long standing variant on the genre)." Taken from

    If you are interested in pervasive games, including pervasive LARPs I strongly suggest you check out Pervasive Games: Theory and Design.

    As far as participating in a pervasive LARP, I'm currently starting up one in the Seattle area. My pervasive LARP, The Collective: If you'd like to chat more about the game or pervasive LARPs in general please feel free to ping me as I've done extensive research into that genre of LARP and have extensive contacts abroad.

    - Amber E.
    Mortalis Games
    LARP Academician