Hugh Chapman is a community artist, creative activist and performance-maker with a long-term interest in the overlap of performance and activism, promoting alternatives to the economic heterodoxy, promoting political engagement and citizen empowerment more broadly. Hugh is currently an MA student at Central School of Speech and Drama and it a tour guide for the Occupy London Tours. Hugh is involved in a range of community-led campaigns and projects: Fossil Free Cambridgeshire and Cambridge Community Land Trust and is a founding member of the network of Transformational Learning and Culture.
Discovering Acency in Live Action Roleplay
This paper takes as it’s starting point the desire to create participatory experience in which participants can exercise agency.
Recent critical thinking about interactive and participatory experience has identified different levels of interactivity that can be established (Rosemary Klich & Edward Scheer, Hannah Nicklin). In terms of creating experience which allows and cultivates agency, an ’emergent’ interactivity is the holy grail. ‘Emergent’ interactivity describes interactive experience which participants can play an active role in shaping.
Live action role play (larp) is a form well-suited to emergent interactivity. Co-creation of the world in which the larp will take place, the freedom to choose a character and to develop back story and relationships with other players are all features commonly used in larp (especially Nordic larp). Where other interactive experience relies on a pre-determined sequence of events and programmed interactive elements, in larp players shape the story as they play.
This paper explores the potential for the experience of playing a character in the emergent scenario of a live action role play to open up opportunities for personal transformation. Chapman argues that larp can be a space to explore modes of behaviour, strategies and ways of being outside one’s habitual behaviours. In other words, larp is a space for play. The constant interplay between one’s awareness of oneself performing a role and the reality of the role one is playing creates a special ‘double consciousness’ in larp. Participants bring themselves to the character that they’re playing and there’s potential for players to carry aspects of their character with them after the larp is over.