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Active Learning Multiplayer Scenario Game-Based Learning: Edu-LARP


From Wikipedia:  A live action role-playing game (LARP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically portray their characters.  The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world while interacting with each other in character. The outcome of player actions may be mediated by game rules or determined by consensus among players. Event arrangers called game masters decide the setting and rules to be used and facilitate play.

Educational live action role-playing (edu-larp) is the adoption of LARP to a classroom or other educational  setting. Edu-LARP is thus a “form of experiential learning that engages students on multiple levels, including cognitive, affective, and behavioral. Similar to drama pedagogy and simulation, edu-larp employs scenarios in the classroom in which students enact roles and engage with class content. Although edu-larp arises from the leisure activity of role-playing games, the practice affords similar benefits as other forms of experientiall learning.” 3

A significant form of Edu-LARP that is being currently applied in higher education is represented by the role-immersion games of Reacting to the Past as pioneered at Barnard College.  “Reacting to the Past (RTTP) consists of elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles informed by classic texts in the history of ideas. Class sessions are run entirely by students; instructors advise and guide students and grade their oral and written work. It seeks to draw students into the past, promote engagement with big ideas, and improve intellectual and academic skills. Reacting roles, unlike those in a play, do not have a fixed script and outcome, so while students will be obliged to adhere to the philosophical and intellectual beliefs of the historical figures they have been assigned to play, they must devise their own means of expressing those ideas persuasively, in papers, speeches, or other public presentations; and students must also pursue a course of action they think will help them win the game.”4


3.  Sarah Lynn Bowman. “Educational Live-Action Role Playing in the Classroom.” Media Commons: A Digital Scholarly Network, Feb. 2, 2015,

4.  “Reacting to the Past.” Reacting to the Past: Barnard College,


Reacting to the Past

Mark C. Carnes.  “Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Transform College”.   2018, Harvard University Press

Watson, C. Edward, Hagood, Thomas Chase (Eds.). “Playing to Learn with Reacting to the Past”.  2018, Palgrave Macmillan

Proctor, Nicolas W. Reacting to the Past: Game Designer's Handbook, 3rd ed. Simpson College, 2013.

Reacting to the Past: Intro & Explanation of Game Play

Reacting to the Past: The Faculty Perspective

Reacting to the Past: The Student Perspective

Reacting to the Past: Documentary of a Game: Rousseau, Burke,and Revolution in France, 1791

  • Student produced documentary video showing students playing Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France, 1791. The game plunges students into the intellectual, political, and ideological currents that surged through revolutionary Paris in the summer of 1791.

How does Reacting to the Past help your students learn? (Rebecca Stanton)

  • Rebecca Stanton, Assistant Professor of Russian at Barnard College, responds to the question, "How does Reacting to the Past help your students learn?"

How does Reacting to the Past help your students learn (Lisa Cox)

  • Lisa Cox, Instructor of History and World Languages at Greenfield Community College, responds to the question, "How does Reacting to the Past help your students learn?"

How does Reacting to the Past help your students learn?  (Judith Shapiro)

  • Judith Shapiro, President of the Teagle Foundation and President Emerita at Barnard College, responds to the question, "How does Reacting to the Past help your students learn?"


Educational LARP in the Middle School Classroom: a mixed method case study.  International Journal of Role-playing, 2015

International Journal of Role-Playing SPECIAL ISSUE: Role-playing and Simulation in Education.  Issue 6, 2016

The world according to EDU-LARP: the analog learning games

Gamified learning: a role-playing approach to increase student in-class motivation.  Procedia Computer Science 112(2017) 41-51.  21st International Conference on Knowledge Based and Intelligent Information and Engineering Systems, KES2017, 6-8 September 2017, Marseilles, France.  Science Direct

Game Wrap.

Hacking the Research LIbrary: Wikipedia, Trump, and Information literacy in the Escape Room at Fresno State

College of Wizardry: an immersive wizard school experience.

EDU-LARP Blogs and Podcasts