We Need to Talk - A Literature Review of Debrief


  • Brodie Atwater




psychology, therapy, role-playing games, debriefing, trauma


This literature review consults the diverse academic definitions of debriefing to give context to larp debriefs. Among the many concepts for debriefing, simulation learning and psychological debriefing are explored to show lessons and precedents. Simulation debriefs emphasize learning and a transition from the affective to the cognitive, which can inform how larp debriefs engage with content. The concepts of fidelity and authenticity, along with tripartite learning within simulations, are invoked to show similarities and potential growth for larp debriefs. Psychological debriefing has mixed results, but reviewing the literature shows that psychological debrief practice within research has been functionally dissimilar to larp debrief. Discourse already surrounding psychological debrief has questioned the research methods and results of previous studies, making generalization to larp debriefs inappropriate. Larp-specific debriefs are considered non-therapeutic transitional tools for moving between perspectives and reinstalling the social reality suspended during play. Its counterpart, workshopping, is considered important to creating the necessary context for debriefing. Larp debriefs have the potential to become a vector for the therapeutic work through larping. The article advocates for responsible content creation despite using debrief as a transitional tool, as no evidence suggests that debriefing makes larping safer.




How to Cite

Atwater, B. (2016). We Need to Talk - A Literature Review of Debrief. International Journal of Role-Playing, (6), 7–11. https://doi.org/10.33063/ijrp.vi6.240