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LARPing; How Music Improved Immersion for The Players

Immersion is the act of immersing yourself in something or having deep mental involvement. It’s what most LARP games strive to achieve for their players.

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Photo by JJ Jordan on Pexels.com

Why Is Immersion Important?

During a research project, study authors, Associate Professor Tom Van Laer from the University of Sydney and Dr. Davide Orazi from Monash University followed three different LARP groups. This ethnographic study collected 52 pages of field notes, 2,496 photographs, four hours of GoPro videos, 29 interviews, seven diaries and 2,936 screen captures from four LARPs.

They said their research demonstrated three main reasons LARPing leaves a stronger impact than traditional media or tabletop roleplaying gaming.

Associate professor Van Laer explains the impact that LARPing has on its players.

“When you watch tv, vision and sound are basically the only two senses that play a role. In a LARP there’s touch, smell, and taste, so all your senses are there. It’s not just in your head, it’s everywhere, there’s no border from reality.

“LARPs also allow more freedom and agency than is possible with traditional media and tabletop games. Rather than the showrunner, game designer or dungeon master ‘writing the book,’ LARPs give consumers a lot of involvement in creating the story.

“And finally, you know you can stop a movie. If people get too scared, you stop it. You cannot stop the LARP because the social pressure to be there is the same as the social pressure of a meeting at work—you can’t just stop if you’re not liking it.”

LARPing immersion statistics

Associate Professor Van Laer isn’t the only person looking into the immersion of LARPing. This is a topic that’s been highly studied throughout the world. Switching styles has found some immersion statistics for you and your local LARPing community. Check them out!

It’s not just about the game and being immersed in the fantasy. It’s about being a part of the world. Immersion into a game involves solving problems through cognition, strategic thinking, abstract reasoning, and tactics (First Person Scholar).

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the LARPing craze has blown up throughout the world, including in China. The number of LARP studios across China is also rising, with nearly 12,000 shopfronts as of 2019 (CGTN).

Data shows LARP game’s market value in 2019 has doubled in only a year. The market value exceeded 10 billion yuan in 2019 (Meituan Research Institute).

A survey shows that nearly all of the LARPing respondents felt that background music and sound effects increased their overall sense of immersion (The Computer Games Journal).

Background Music to Help the Immersion

One aspect that adds to the overall immersion is music or sound effects to improve the ambience. Here are examples of several types of music immersion background music to use in your LARP game.

Darkest Dungeon Composed By Stuart Chatwood For Red Hook Studios

The Hellion Tavern By ASKII

Finding Pandora By The Vault of Ambience

Tranquil Atmospheric Ambience Enchanted Lands By The Guild of Ambience

The Yōkai CompendiumBy Realm of Dementia

H.P. Lovecraft Music By Cthulhu Mythos Music

Deep Within the Forest By Dreamhop Music

Dungeon Ambience By Arondight Studios

A King’s Remorse ByArondight Studios

Sunset In the Mountains By Blue Turtle

Let me know in the comments below which one is your favourite!

Now tell Switching Styles what you really think!

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