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BLARPing, the Office Role Playing Game You Need Right Now

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Even if you've never played Dungeons & Dragons or ever heard of the Society for Creative Anachronism, there's one role-playing game that might appeal to you – especially if you spend your days in an office. BLARPing, or Business Live Action Role-Playing, allows office workers to become something more interesting than their usual workaday roles. Just what you need when the real world of TPS reports and year-end reviews gets too dull to take.

Even if you’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons or ever heard of the Society for Creative Anachronism, there’s one role-playing game that might appeal to you – especially if you spend your days in an office. BLARPing, or Business Live Action Role-Playing, allows office workers to become something more interesting than their usual workaday roles. Just what you need when the real world of TPS reports and year-end reviews gets too dull to take.

empty office

(Photo Credit: grahamhills/Flickr)

But, before we get to BLARPing, we have to start at the beginning. Live Action Role-Playing (also known as LARPing) is defined as “collaborative pretending with rules.” Participants gather together to act out and play through games that used to be relegated to table-top formats (like Dungeons & Dragons) by becoming a character and staging a fantasy world experience.

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If you search for LARP or LARPing on the internet, you’ll find a ton of content. For a good example, check out the LARP mini-series known as The Reba Rapscallions. Here’s a clip.

 

Enter BLARPing

BLARPing is LARPing for your office. Business Live Action Role-Playing is fairly new, but it’s already yielded some pretty entertaining results.

Seventeen-year-old Thomas Oscar of Coffs Harbour Australia recently created a satirical Facebook page for a fictional company he called Stackswell & Co., that set the internet on fire. And, with that, BLARPing became something we all needed to know about.

Stackswell & Company Explored

It all started when Oscar created a Facebook page for a make-believe company called Stackswell & Co. Defining the purpose of the intentionally nondescript company as “moving units,” left a lot of room for the game to take off. With that, the office parody was born.

Next, his friends joined the site, and gradually more people that he didn’t know “IRL” jumped in as well. In just two days, the site jumped from 200 members to about 1100, which shocked the humble creator. 

Participants contributed to the company (and the BLARP) by exploring and expanding upon the mundane work-life they sought to mock through composing humorous posts about life at Stackswell & Co. 

Fake “fun” office events were created, spreadsheets were drawn, and nonsensical graphs were designed and fiercely debated.  They discussed KPIs (key performance indicators), and “synergy growth partnerships” in posts on the Facebook page of the company which promised an “agile, vision-oriented disintermediated” workplace.

Why Did He Do It?

Well, simply for the fun of it of course! But, creator Thomas Oscar says he wanted to make fun of “senseless bureaucracy.” And, apparently a lot of other folks did as well. Oscar’s group took off quickly, with lots of contributors taking time away from their real office jobs to contribute to the page.

blarp memo

blarp memo comments

 

(Screenshot: Justine Sharrock of Fast Company)

The Future of BLARPing

Oscar signed over control of Stackswell & Company just recently as some of the contributors started pointing the BLARP in a direction he didn’t enjoy. A post about the delivery of 10,000 iguanas that had escaped into the office sent him over the edge. The site is still up and running though. Now, a new CEO for Stackswell and Co., David Frew who works as a lawyer in real life, has taken over control of the site.  

The Facebook page for Stackswell & Co. is still active, and participation is as easy as signing up. Many choose to write on the site, thereby carrying the BLARP forward, while others simply read and enjoy.

Other satirical business webpages exist as well, such as the popular Synergon. And, with the popularity (not to mention hilarity) of this stuff, we expect to see more amazing “work” from similar BLARPs in the future.

blarp evacuation plan

(Screenshot: Justine Sharrock of Fast Company)

Tell Us What You Think

What do you think of BLARPing? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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