Sadomasochist Role-Playing as Live-Action Role-Playing: A Trait-Descriptive Analysis




BDSM, sadomasochism, kink, role-playing games, definition, pain, humiliation, live action role-playing games, larp


This article describes sadomasochist role-playing which is physically performed by its participants. All sadomasochist activities have a role-playing component to them. It is a form of role-playing where people consensually take on dominant and submissive roles, for the purpose of inflicting things such as pain and humiliation, in order to create pleasure for all participants. In some cases, participants agree to emphasize those roles, or make them fetishistically attractive, by adding complexity and definitions to them, and then act them out in semi-scripted fantasy scenes. This paper examines that activity, commonly called “sadomasochistic role-play”, as opposed to the more generic “sadomasochism” of which it is only one facet.

Furthermore, the article compares this form of play with live-action role-playing (larp). Its main emphasis is on the question of how closely related the two activities are. To determine this, the article examines sadomasochist role-playing as being potentially a game, the question of its goal-orientation and the issue of whether or not it contains a character in the sense of a live-action role-playing character. Based on this process, it comes to the conclusion that sadomasochist role-playing is not a separate type of role-playing, but rather one kind of live-action role-playing.

As its theoretical framework, this text utilizes studies done on both live-action role-playing games and on sadomasochist role-playing. Reliable material on the latter being quite limited, descriptions have been gathered from both academic works and practical manuals. The data gained from these is further supported by interviews of practitioners with personal experience in playing sadomasochist fantasy scenes. This article has two key purposes: The research of a relatively understudied form of role-
playing, and the building of bridges from that to live-action role-playing research.




How to Cite

Harviainen, J. T. (2011). Sadomasochist Role-Playing as Live-Action Role-Playing: A Trait-Descriptive Analysis. International Journal of Role-Playing, (2), 59–70.