LARP vs. MMORPG

I have been a LARP‘er for many many years, and have been opposing MMORPGs for almost just as long. But two years back I discovered PlaneShift, a free online game. I decided to put away my dislikes for MMORPGs and give it a try. I registered and account, downloaded the game and logged in. And the big surprise was: I liked it!

Soliders from Malderia. Photo by Elin K. Nilsen

Social

LARP is much more social than any MMO because you meet actual people, you can stare in to their eyes, shake their hands and interact in a physical way. I’m not saying that MMOs aren’t social, because that would be wrong. Through MMOs you meet people from all over the world and you can interact as much as you like, and when you are tired of being social you can just go solo, do some quests and bash some monster skulls.

Practical

Attending a LARP demands a much greater effort that a MMO. You need a costume and you must attend preparation meetings. You’ll have to travel to the location of the LARP, and some times the location is far off into the wilderness. This means that you also need a certain minimum of gear and survival skills. To join a MMO all you have to do is download/purchase and go.. Of course you can prepare to a greater extent, like making a solid background for your character, researching what game suits you best and so on, but this is things you’ll have to do before a LARP anyway.

Me immersed as the oh! God of Science

Immersion

There is no question about what gives the greatest immersion experience! In a MMO you are constantly diverted by the mechanics and your surroundings. All you have to do to break the immersion is to look up from your screen. In a LARP you don’t have all these distractions. You physically in the world and so is every one else around you. This makes it all feel as real. I’m not saying that immersion is impossible in a MMO, but it is certainly much harder to obtain.

Griefers and trolls

In a LARP you meet the actual people while in a MMO you have no idea who they are and where they are from. Anonymity is the main problem for any MMO, as this makes people idiots. In any MMO you’ll have a chance to meet a griefer around every corner, while in a LARP the griefers have already been denied access to the game or they just don’t grief because every can see your face. In my 15 years as a LARPer I can’t remember anyone griefing others in a game, but online I meet griefers every week.

Conclusion

To be honest, I still favour LARP. As an actor and storyteller I feel that I can use my skills to a far greater extent than in a MMO. I have seen and been in great stories in MMOs but the greatest stories I have experienced for “real” in LARP. The biggest difference is that in a LARP you feel to a much greater extent that what you are experiencing is real, immersion is the key, while in a MMO you can be part of awesome stories but still not be totally immersed. Still I’ll keep playing online, as the preparations are so much easier and the fun much more accessible.

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Game: Planeshift

Latly i hav been dug in deep into a quite different project. PlaneShift is a MMORPG with emphasis on the RPG part. It is free and all of it is created by volunteers like most open source material. I started playing this game a bit more than a year ago, and yes i know i have said that i never would involve my self with an MMORPG.. Beacuse it it just a huge time consumer.. But i could not resist. Now I am a part of the PlaneShift team as a Game Master. That means I am moderating the game, writing and organizing events for the players. And to be perfectly honest, I find that more fun than just being a player. No surprise there.. I have had the same feeling when it comes to ordinary RPG and LARP too. I guess it is in my nature to always be on the organizer part of projects.

To join this team has been great fun for me, and the best thing is that I can use my experience from RPG, LARP and of course all I have learned from being a story teller. Well it all comes back to that fact that telling stories is perhaps what I do best and enjoy the most, no matter the medium and techniques used. Since I joined the PS team i have written over 40 events and I am quite sure there will be more..

The miner complains about his boss, in the taver Kada-Els.

The miner complains about his boss, in the tavern Kada-Els.

Here is a screenshot from an event I organized yesterday. This was a fairly simple event, based on a conflict between a miner and his boss. I won’t tell more about the event it self, as it might be done again in the future. But I can assure you we had all lots of fun. The players discussed the conflict with eagerness and solved it all with the oldest trick in the book: Bribery.

I guess you’ll all hear more from the world of Yliakum in later posts.. And if you really want to learn more about this strange and wonderful world, it is free to download and register!

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