Larp Census


What is larp?

Larp or LARP is an acronym that stands for Live Action Role Playing. Some people think of larp as a sport, some as a hobby, some as a medium of expression, and some as an art form.

Larp means you portray a character—who may be a mindless zombie or who may be very close to the real you—with other people doing the same. The overall experience is designed and guided by someone or a group who may or may not also portray characters during the event. There is rarely a detailed script to follow like staged theater. This improv acting is performed for personal satisfaction and the fulfillment of your fellow role-players; larp is not for a passive audience that has no agency in the narrative.

Larp goes by many names, and instances of it have appeared throughout global history. It appears to be in a global resurgence, with larp communities in many different countries.

Why a global larp census?

Although some countries have rough estimates of their larp population, there has not been a comprehensive global census taken of self-identifying larpers on this scale. We really want to count everyone who larps, has larped, and wants to larp.

The information we acquire will be publicly shared so scholars can analyze the data and make conclusions that will, hopefully, increase both the quantity and quality of larps around the globe.


We will never share your email address.

If you choose to provide your email address, it will only be used very sparingly to notify you about the census.

If you provide email addresses for others who might be interested in the census, we will send emails to them immediately. We will not store their email addresses. To prevent them being spammed with repeated invitations to complete the census, we store a cryptographically hashed copy of their email address. It is not possible for us or anyone else to retrieve the original email addresses once they have been hashed.

Is this an academic or commercial enterprise?

Although we are consulting with noted larp scholars around the world on our methodology, this census is not sponsored by any academic institution or publication. The census is not a commercial enterprise, and all results will be shared free of charge.

What will you do with the results of the census?

After the census closes, we will release the data under a Data Use Agreement. Anyone will be able to access, review and use the data under the conditions of the agreement. This data will be stripped of identifying information. Sensitive data will only be available to appropriate academic researchers. If possible, an analysis of the data will be published in an academic journal. We may also be asking for help analyzing the data from interested parties.

Are you going to do this again and if so, when?

Yes, we hope to repeat this in a few years, to track changes in larp across the planet.

Who are you?

Aaron Vanek lives in Los Angeles and has been larping for nearly 30 years. He wrote and published an essay on the art of larp entitled “Cooler Than You Think: Understanding Live Action Role Playing” that is available as a free PDF download here. He is a founding member of Live Game Labs and Executive Director of Seekers Unlimited, a non-profit company that uses larp for education. He edited the 2012 and 2013 Wyrd Con Companion Books with Sarah Lynne Bowman, Ph.D.

Ryan Paddy lives in New Zealand and has been larping for 25 years. His editing of the Live action role-playing game article on Wikipedia has led to its recognition with Good Article status. He is a founder and committee member of the New Zealand Live Action Role Playing Society.

You can reach us at or by emailing or

We would like to offer our special thanks to everyone who generously helped to review and translate the Larp Census prior to its launch: Fatima AbdulKarim, Teresa Axner, Whitney "Strix" Beltrán, Rafael Bienia, Sarah Lynne Bowman, Nat Budin, Baptiste Cazes, Jan Černý, Krzysztof M. Chmielewski, Gilles Cruyplants, Karol Cydzik, Elin Dalstål, Amber Eagar, Luiz Falcão, the LARP Academia list, Ajit George, Olga Gontarczyk, Malcolm Harbrow, J. Tuomas Harviainen, Karijn van der Heij, Nathan Hook, Björn-Ole Kamm, Taisia Kann, Ярослав Kot, Gabriele Manganello, Diana Mancia, Marissa Minna Lee, Alexander Miroforides, Michał "Saladyn" Misztal, Yukiko Mochizuki, Suus Mutsaers, Jihyun Park, Stephanie Pegg, Nikola Reitz, Tapani Ronni, Ola Rønning, Christopher Sandberg, Kryštof Šámal, Tatiana Shutova, Jaakko Stenros, Evan Torner, Steve Vig, Olga Vorobyeva, Josefin Westborg, Mike Young.