LARP or larp?

Should it be LARP or larp?

LARP is an acronym that stands for Live Action Role Play(ing), a hobby that enthralls tens of thousands — maybe hundreds of thousands — of people world wide. But I think that it’s time to take it down a notch and commit to lowercase, because before I was a larper I was a publishing geek who felt deeply about both the Oxford comma and serifed fonts on the internet. Here’s why I favor larp over LARP:

  • As Finnish game researcher Markus Montola pointed out to me, we no longer write LASER, SCUBA or RADAR as those words have entered the mainstream. So too should it be with LARP.
  • Larp is a fungible word, and stuff like LARPing, LARPer, LARPed looks weird. From a typography standpoint, it’s ugly.
  • ┬áPlus, if you go LARPing, on some interpretations of the acronym, you’ve really said that you’ve been live action role playing-ing. It’s grammatically confusing.
  • Many larpers feel that their hobby is stigmatized, and I think that the intense jargon that surrounds the hobby isn’t helping. Larp is just a word, while LARP seems technical and off-putting. I think lowercasing it could help make the hobby seem more accessible to outsiders.
  • Some people do LARP-related activities but use funny terms like “LRP” or “interactive theater” or whatever to describe their hobbies. Maybe divorcing “larp” from “LARP” would open up the term to be more inclusive of these other activities.
  • There’s a lot of larp scholarship — primarily from Europe — that already uses “larp” as its style. I think the stateside larp community should join the club.
  • As a larp writer, my pinky gets cramped from typing all those upper-cases.

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