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The participants in a LARP physically portray characters in a fictional setting, improvising their characters' speech and movements somewhat like actors in improvisational theatre.
Events are put on for the benefit of the players, who take on roles called player characters (PCs) that the players may create themselves or be given by the gamemasters.
The activity spread internationally during the 1980s and has diversified into a wide variety of styles.
Play may be very game-like or may be more concerned with dramatic or artistic expression.
Production values are sometimes minimal, but can involve elaborate venues and costumes.
LARPs range in size from small private events lasting a few hours to large public events with thousands of players lasting for days.
Today, LARP is a widespread activity internationally.
Games with thousands of participants are run by for-profit companies, and a small industry exists to sell costume, armour and foam weapons intended primarily for LARP.
Most LARPs are intended as games for entertainment.
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.