Live action role play games or Larps share many traits to tabletop RPGs and some video games. Through character development and playing those characters through game situations, players can build empathy for others in addition to their own character. The added benefit of the Larp is to cultivate empathy in situations that are less personal, less risky. For example, a group may learn to deal with bullying in a fantasy setting where an ogre is the bully and is played by the kindest individual in the room or racism is studied through playing a first contact situation with aliens set in the future.
At Inquiry Hub, students have designed and played two Larps aimed at grades 9 to 12 with 60 participants. The first Larp was fantasy-based as seen in the video. It emphasized collaboration among individuals while also developing a storyline that put two teams in opposition. In the end, the players had to leave the Island because their actions lead to its destruction. However, through self-sacrifice there was a way to be saved.
Recently, our students entered the Cloud 7 space station with a dystopian sci-fi theme. The players had to learn to work together to reboot the station's AI that had been infected by a malevolent virus. In addition, players had to understand their roles in the hierarchy and make alliances with other groups, including androids who wished for more rights. This proved to be a significant challenge for the students, but after the Larp we were able to talk more about how negotiations would have been much more successful in comparison to using force to subdue presumed threats.
Our experiences have highlighted the potential of Larps to develop character, identity, and problem solving skills.