Imagine This: Foreword to the Book

Our book on business edu-larp has been released! "Imagine This: The Transformative Power of Edu-Larp in Corporate Training & Assessment" by Blaž Branc, with contributions from Stephen Balzac, Krzysztof Chmielewski, Yaraslau Kot, Lujza Kotryova and myself. Published in Copenhagen by Rollespilsakademiet led by Claus Raasted. Cover art by Mikołaj Wicher.

The book first saw the light yesterday in Sweden at the Edu Larp Conference in Malmo, with the official launch coming on Saturday at Knutpunkt 2018 in Lund. It's a rare item for the time being, distributed only at the conferences, but it will be available for purchase online. 

Click here for >Chapter 1

This is the Foreword I wrote three months ago. 


This is a book about edu-larp (educational live-action role play) in business training and assessment, for which I had the opportunity (and pleasure and honour) to help as editor, co-author of Chapter 1 and author of Chapter 6. It isn’t only about larp, though. You will read about game-based learning, serious games and gamification, role-playing games, and Nordic larp. In a way it’s all relevant. It’s all interconnected. Because edu-larp can be all those things.

For example, is edu-larp gamification? Strictly speaking, no. But it could be!

  • When we design a rule-based play system from scratch, using game elements and game design thinking, what we get is a game. Thus a larp becomes a game when it combines role-play with gameplay.
  • When we want a game to teach certain content (i.e. to be educational), we get a serious game (edu-game). The same applies to larps that have a serious (edu-) purpose. They are not called “serious larps” but they are analogous to serious games.
  • When we start with standard teaching methods (say, a course in business ethics), and add game elements to make it more engaging, we are creating a gamified learning experience. Could this experience be understood as edu-larp? Yes, it could - if it includes live-action role-playing.

Fun fact: the book you are reading was born from this last assumption. Back in 2014 Blaž Branc came to Poland for a CEDEFOP-funded study visit and conference on “Gamification in Education & Training”, which we hosted at Kazimierz Wielki University. It was about gamification. And, yet, we did include larp in the programme. What were we thinking?

We said: gamification uses game elements, game mechanics, and game thinking. Good gamification also reaches for play, playful behaviour, playful design, and experience design. One of the game/play elements we have available is role-playing, and one of the forms of role-playing is larp. Hardly ever used by gamification designers, even though it’s very powerful for on-site learning experiences. So, larp is not gamification, but may be successfully employed by it.

You will read Blaž’s reminiscence of his first larp, when he played Nikita Khrushchev. This happened during the study visit. We showed our guests that if they wanted to gamify the process of learning skills, such as negotiation and leadership, larp was a great tool to have in their arsenal. There is no such word as “larpification”, but that’s exactly what we meant: gamification through larp. Of course, you can say it’s not gamification but a serious game and game-based learning, and you’d have your reasons for doing so (see Chapter 3). But it doesn’t matter what we call it. The question is: does it work?

I see it has worked for Blaž pretty well. I was very happy to see him bring gamification and edu-larp to Slovenia and employ it in his professional endeavours. He seems to be the first to spread the “larp gospel” in the local business world, half-jokingly calling himself the father of edu-larp in Slovenia. (By extension, this would make me, Krzysztof and Mikołaj the grandfathers, as it was our study visit that had “spawned” Blaž as an edu-larper.) This started our long-lasting collaboration across countries (Poland - Slovenia) and industries (academia - business), which has ultimately led to the publication of this book. Thank you, Blaž, for the journey we’ve taken together.

Bydgoszcz, Poland. Christmas 2017.