Live-Action Role-Play or the Performance of Realities

Conference paper
Part of the Translational Systems Sciences book series (TSS, volume 9)


Live-action role-play (larp) has been named a “new performative art,” an immersive experience, and an educational tool, but it is much more: A playground of intermingling social and cultural realities, a door to new worlds. This paper offers an introduction to larp, its transcultural history, and its disruptive and creative possibilities, as well as key aspects, such as immersion. It sets the theoretical frame for the game “Staying Alive,” in which the researchers and also the audience engage in a shared “mimetic evocation of ‘real-life experience.’” Many aspects of “everydayness” can be called “collateral realities,” realities that are done implicitly, unintentionally, such as nations, cultures, time, or distinctions of subject and object, or of presenter and audience; realities that could be different. Taking performativity seriously, larp can be a tool to step outside of a Euro-American commonsense ontology and its singular reality “out there” by playing with collateral realities and making their production explicit. During a larp, players (“larpers”) consciously undo objects and meanings, space, and even their very bodies to creatively weave new material-semiotic fabrics. They become cultural mediators between a world-that-supposedly-just-is and its partially connected others, in which Japaneseness or Chineseness may fade and Elvishness is translated into a reality. With a global player base, larping is not only a practice of intersubjective or cultural negotiations but also of intra-subjective mediation of cultural realities.


Collateral realities Cultural mediation Larp Live-action role-play Performativity 



The game “Staying Alive” owes much to Christina Christensen and Eirik Fatland to whom the authors want to express their appreciation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of LettersKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.British Cultural Studies SectionDortmund UniversityDortmundGermany

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