• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

Bleed in LARP

Ryan Paddy

big picturist
Validated User
If I, as a the player, feel guilty about it after the LARP, even though the character, who is thoroughly evil, felt no guilt, that's similar to bleed.
It's similar to bleed if you use the narrower definition.

If you use the broader definition used (proposed?) by Montola, then the example you give is definitely bleed. Personally I prefer the broader definition, because it can be used to talk about a more general phenomena of what you take into a larp and what you take out. I think it's the way many Nordics mean bleed because they're interested in the sociological angle of how games affect players beyond the game, and what players bring into games, but that's just the impression I have.

Like I said I don't think bleed is a great word for this wider meaning, I think it was chosen because it sounds edgy rather than its actual merit.

In my opinion, the more narrow definition for bleed is just a synonym for "identification", a term already used to describe how a consumer of media puts themselves in the position of a character. There is already a lot of research into identification in books, movies etc, which could be instructive in translating the concept to larp. So I wonder if identification would be a better word for the narrow definition - I don't think it needs a new trendy term.

What other terms have they adopted for the concept?
A few years back there was a lot of talk about "diegesis", "the magic circle", and a bunch of other terms borrowed from non-gaming fields. When I read some original sources for these terms it seemed like some of them had been a bit sloppily applied by some Nordic larp writers, and the original meanings might have been more useful. Can't remember the details though, sorry.

Ryan Paddy

big picturist
Validated User
Here's a definition of "identification":

the experience of being able to put oneself so deeply into a character -feel oneself to be so like the character- that one can feel the same emotions and experience the same events as the character is supposed to be feeling and experiencing
That seems a lot like the narrow definition of bleed in larp used by some US authors (except the author of this definition is talking about identification of a viewer with a character on screen, not a character being "played"). Which is what I mean about that usage being redundant. It also seems quite closely related to some definitions of "immersion" in larp.

That definition is from this article, which looks to be some kind of media studies writeup, possibly by a student? The article is full of lovely psycho-gobbledegook that puts Nordic larp writers to shame for its pretentiousness. ;)
Last edited:


Retired User
I think I prefer the narrower definition because I think the broader definition would just be too vague to be useful in conversation.

Identification is a related, but not quite the same thing as my definition of bleed. I don't think identification necessarily has to involve emotions. The two often come hand in hand-for many LARPers, the more they can identify with their character, the more potential they have for bleed, but identifying with a character doesn't necessarily mean that playing that character will evoke emotions with me, or that my character will feel the emotions that I would feel in their position.

Also, I think identity as defined in that article is actually only bleed-out, not bleed-in. (Likely because the article is discussing movies, where the character's actions are completely independent of the viewer, whereas in LARP, the character is not independent of the player.) To explain with an example, if my character is similar to me, and something bad happens to her and I feel sad, I might say I identified with the character, and this encouraged me to feel bleed. But if I some other player annoys me in real life, even though my character is supposedly very fond of him, I might snap at him in-game, that's bleed in... but it didn't happen because I identified with my character.

(Also, I agree with your assessment of the article. ^_^)


Registered User
Validated User
I've read this whole thread and I don't really understand how playing any game could not change your personal outlook. The whole idea of bleed is kind of silly in that regard. No matter what you do you experience something, feel something or not feel something which can be just as important. You as the person take that away with you from the life you live. And despite the idea that the character did it, not me; you are still the perpetrator of that action. Be it helping the widow Ulfgood carry her wares to sell at the tavern... or murdering the widow Ulfgood to take her wares and keep for yourself. You learn just a little something about you. Did you enjoy murdering that old woman you psycho? Or was the exhiliration eclipsed by the fact that the poor widow Ulfgood is never going to bring her wares to tavern again?

It's all relevant, I've done some stage acting and even when the lines are scripted and the movements blocked, you still learn about yourself in the process. I mention this because LARP is acting without the script or the blocking, it is improv at it's finest. And being involved as a participant or witness to a scene you learn something. Even if it's I don't like walking in the woods alone at night.

My 16¢ worth (damn inflation)
Top Bottom