Documenting Larp as an Art of Experience


  • Jason Cox



role-playing games, larp, documentation, arts-education


Larp documentation and representation has proven difficult for a variety of reasons. I contend that one way to meet this challenge is to foreground player experiences over the narrative created by the designers. Player-created artifacts from larps utilize a range of senses to create a kind of assemblage of documentation that more closely approximates both the feel and the meaning of the experience, providing a more complete picture of what the larp was and what it felt like. They can represent the collaboration between the players, the context, and the system, through an amalgam of the “memories, stories, photographs and old props now serving as souvenirs from alternate realities” (Stenros, Montola, & Belarbi 2010). These artifacts become social objects (Engeström 2005, cited in Simon 2010) that describe experiences from multiple perspectives, with the intent of surrounding the experience (Sullivan 2010) to allow for an examination of relationships that are simultaneously immediate and distant. The realizations that emerge from this engagement evoke Art-educator Elliot Eisner’s (2002) dictum that “meaning is not limited to what words can express” (p.230).
Some may argue that this approach constitutes the musealization of larp, but the movement towards the model described by Museum Director and scholar Nina Simon in The Participatory Museum (2010) would not only be a more accurate rendering of larp experiences, but also would encourage an audience to engage with the material “as cultural participants, not passive consumers.” Participants are encouraged to use the social objects as a locus point around which they can create, share, and connect to one another. In effect, the exhibit communicates experience by being an interactive-experience that considers physical, social, and personal contexts at play (Falk and Dierking 2016). These concepts are given form in The Magischola Museum (Cox 2017) website that I designed to house artifacts from Learn Larp LLC’s New World Magischola series.




How to Cite

Cox, J. (2018). Documenting Larp as an Art of Experience. International Journal of Role-Playing, (9), 24–30.