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17. LARP, LRP, Larp, larp and all the rest

Most of us agree that what we’re doing is live action role play. Not all, but most. When it comes to what we call it, we’ll gladly fight each other to the (online) death if needed.

Here are some thoughts on the name debate.

All definitions are political

With that in place, let’s talk about options. The first and most obvious place to start is with the classical acronym, LARP, which is popular in many place. It’s clean, nice and clear. It’s easy to grasp that it stands for something, and if you don’t know what, you can ask. Plenty of interesting things exist as acronyms, after all. NASA. NFL. NATO.


Also, it looks clunky in writing, as is painfully obvious from the picture, which is from a (very nice) book about LARP by David Simkins.

LRP, maybe?

Larp to the rescue

In Germany, Larp is the standard form, but German also uses capital first letters when talking about things. A car is an Auto, a stadium is a Stadium, and so on, so it makes good sense that it’s a Larp here. I don’t know how they feel about “Ich bin ein Larper” (I am a Larper), but it works reasonably well there.

The case for larp

I think larp, I talk larp, and I do larp.

Of course, not everyone agrees that this is how it should be. There are good arguments for keeping it as the acronym LARP (or LRP), after all. But here are some arguments for larp – in no particular order:

  • It takes into consideration that we (the larpers) already use it as a both verb and noun. And, oh, do we ever!
  • It looks more elegant in writing, as per the example from Simkins’ book. Acronyms aren’t that elegant.
  • It’s less of an unusual thing, and more a natural part of vocabulary. If we want to make larp more mainstream (I do!), then this is worth taking into consideration.
  • It’s ok that it started as an acronym. So did LASER, and that went lowercase many years ago. Don’t worry about that part.
  • Some countries are already going lowercase. In Poland, it’s officially lowercase, for example.

And if you don’t care one way or the other, then know that you’ll be making some of us happy. After all, it’s easier spreading the larp revolution when we don’t have to spend energy fighting about whether it’s actually the LARP/LRP/Larp revolution instead. :-)

Written by

Director, The College of Extraordinary Experiences & Coach at McKinsey

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