Planning for VR/AR integration/supplementation of RPG/LARP

by Hawke Robinson published 2022/11/12 09:28:48 GMT-7, last modified 2022-11-12T09:28:48-07:00
I am in the middle of finals right now, but will be looking into trying to test out Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) TRPG & LARP using a combination of items...

I experimented with VR in the early Amiga-based VR days of the late 80s and early 90s. And the second coming of VR in the late 90s (I learned VRML, and setup VRML websites and such), but all for naught. The tech just "wasn't there yet" for what I wanted to achieve with blending tabletop role-playing games (RPG) & Live-action role-playing (LARP) with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

Now the third coming of VR, will it catch on better this time? I will of course be checking it out. The combination of my computer science background with my therapeutic recreation background, how could I not? :-)

I have to do more research (and that will have to wait until finals are over this coming week), but I am planning (if possible) to experiment with the following:

Using a combination of equipment, in a parking lot, gym, warehouse, stadium, park, field, or other large open space, "paint" an adventure environment, and then walk the gamers through. Whether it is verbally, or physically along with them, as they "see" things appear in the environment before them. This would still involve mechanics of TRPG and LARP, rather than computer-programming limitations, so they would have far more freedom in ROLE-play, travel options, dynamic dialogue, and creative solutions to challenges, rather than the terribly restrictive limitations of pre-scripted computer-based RPGs...

"Painting" the environment would be something along these lines:

I would normally create similar props, just like preparing battlemats, whiteboards, projection screen, flatscreen on the table, or handout drawings, instead it would just be a VR/AR pre-drawn supplement. But combining the VR and AR with IRL to keep that human connection.

Of course this could be done online with people around the world (eventually), mixing aspects of Second Life and World of Warcraft (WoW), but without the horrible limitations of scripted WoW. But I think sharing the real physical space with augmented space, at least for a while of transition, will be better socially.

This provides social VR experiences, rather than solo VR. Potentially VR Parties. Someone can paint an environment in their home, garage, etc., and folks come over and explore.

Then with less expensive mobile sets (if possible), for example tablets, I would GM the players through this painted environment. It might be as small as my basement recreation area, or potentially much larger open spaces.

As the tech improves potentially, I would integrate animations into encounters, that I activate accordingly. Or have other players or co-GMs as NPCs, that don't appear in the VR/AR world until queued by me. 

I don't think the VR/AR tech is quite there yet, but I want to experiment with these early prototypes to see how close I can get to pulling this off.

I don't know if something as simple as Google Cardboard will have sufficient position tracking (probably not yet), or the Samsung setups even, or if only the high end expensive (and wired) Vive PC setup is the only option for this (right now), and I will have to wait for the tech to get more mobile. But it will be interesting to try and push this technology to the limits for the specific goals I have in mind.

Of course, what the consequences of this more "real" immersion for TRPG & LARP will be, compared to just imagining, will be a whole other battery of research.

It might reduce the creative and social benefits, and increase the risks of "bleed" or other potentially negative consequences. Or maybe not. It will be interesting to find out.

But is it "here yet"?


Links of note:


UPDATE 20160630: Since writing this article originally, I have since tried out most of the AR & VR products available on the market, and unfortunately I can say that the tech is NOT quite there yet. Very close though. The technical requirements for the headsets (both AR and VR) still mean a dependency on a large PC with cables dragging behind each participant. Even though the IBM linux wearable device with glasses back around '00 was close it never caught on, and Google Glass dev has "gone dark" from the public for now. The mobile devices that are on market can't do what I illustrated just yet. But as soon as there are mobile versions capable, as soon as I can afford to integrate this, and my earlier experiments at integrating AR and VR into my tabletop RPG and LARP sessions, (and my computer science background career), you know I will!

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