Mittwoch, 08. Oktober 2014, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

Wednesday Seminar - Tatiana Barchunova

Taste for Play: Lifestyle of Live-Action Role-Players in Siberia

SR-A, Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie (NIG)
Universitätsstraße 7, 4. Stock, 1010 Wien

Antrittsvorlesung, Public Lecture

The present-day Siberian Live-Action Role-Playing (LARP) scene covers numerous game sites, rich internet resources, off-line clubs, and hundreds of people involved. It covers historical re-enactment games; fantasy games, based on books or TV movie plots and freely invented scenarios, written by LARP leaders; strike-ball games. By larpers participants of both fantasy role-playing games and historical re-enactment games are meant. The reason for this indiscriminate usage is that the major element of the ludic scene in Novosibirsk and Siberia in general is the so-called “military-historical role-playing game ‘Makarena (named after the master of the game whose nickname is ‘Makar’), which is a mixed form of role-playing and historical re-enactment.


The goal of the presentation is to show how participation in Live-Action Role-Playing (LARP) influences the lifestyles of those Siberians who are involved in this scene, and how the boundary between play and “real life” is being continually constructed and yet disregarded at the same time.


The presentation will have two sections. The first section of the presentation will deal with the issue of borders between the Ludic and the Real. Our common sense suggests that game is different from real world. Any game has its conventional rules different from those norms that regulate our operations in the real world. It is limited in space and time. This common sense is perfectly consistent with the conventional approach to games based on the classical book by J. Huizinga Homo ludens. However, the empirical research of LARP events seems to undermine this approach. The borderline between the Ludic and the Real is constructed through the rites of entry the game, game events as such, and exit events. However, at all stages of LARP events there are situations when organizers and participants break the borders.


The second section of the presentation will deal with types of larpers which are identified on the basis of their involvement in the ludic scene. I have discriminated three categories of participants: casual larpers, regular larpers, and total larpers. Casual larpers have a taste for play, but are not involved in its preparation. Regular larpers’ taste for play is revealed in a repertoire of roles they play, commitment to serial games and teams, involvement in preparation of the games. They are familiar with all game sites and belong to the relevant social networks. Total larpers are not only leaders and organizers of the games at all stages, but they come to connect their activities with moral principles that apply to life in general, regardless of “ludic” or “real”. They are pedagogues in the most general sense of the word. They have teaching expertise, they are supposed to be role-models for their students and proponents of a healthy and decent lifestyle. Evidently, they are convinced that participation in role-playing games offers important moral lessons for life and provides for creative ways of consumption and self-experience. Their taste for play is their passion, and they want to share this passion with others.


The presentation is based on the results of the research project “Conditions and Limitations of Lifestyle Plurality in Siberia” at the Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle, Germany) conducted in cooperation with J. Otto Habeck (University of Hamburg) and Natalia Beletskaia (Novosibirsk Akademgorodok Youth Center).


Tatiana Barchunova is an Associate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and a Faculty Member at the Department of Philosophy, Novosibirsk University. Her research interests include live-enactment games (or role-playing games), Siberian youth, leisure, traveling and networks. She focuses on Russia, especially Novosibirsk Oblast, Tomsk Oblast.

Zur Webseite der Veranstaltung


Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie


Mag. Marie-Therese Hartwig
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie