A black box is a room with black walls, no windows, flat floor and no furniture. Most rooms that are black or dark with little or no furniture will pass as a black box for larp purposes, even though it would not suffice as a black box for all other purposes, such as film or TV production. By cleaning out other all visual elements, the black box makes it easy to catch attention with few and simple props or light effects. Sometimes the players are also asked to dress in black in order to strengthen this effect. Usually the black box is equipped with theatre lights and an audio system.
The black box is frequently used as a meta room where the players can go during the runtime of a longer larp. In the meta room the players may enrich the stories of the characters beyond the time and space of the "main" larp, and to give players a break and an opportunity to think through their larping without having to go off-game. An early use of a black box for a meta room was in the larp En stilla middag med familjen, hence the common misunderstanding that a black box and a meta room is the same. A black box can also be used for other meta techniques than the meta room during the runtime of a longer larp.
Black boxes is also used as the entire venue for a larp. This is most common for shorter larps, and some refer to the short Black box larps as a separate genre of larps.
There are also examples of longer larps with many players run in large black boxes, such as Mellan himmel och hav, Delirium and Kapo. Kapo also has a small black box for meta room usage inside the large black box that made up the playing area.
The black box has long history in the theatre world and was (probably) introduced first as technique in Nordic larp at Swedish, En stilla middag med familjen in 2007, where it was used as a meta room. Short black box larps has predominantly been played at festivals such as Prolog and Grenselandet, probably due to the accessibility of blackboxes at these festival venues. In 2012 the festival Blackbox CPH was started, the first event focusing solely on short black box larps.
Notable Black box chamber larps
- Hvid Død
- Sort Sol
- Mulholland Larp
- When Our Destinies Meet
- All the little boys are dead
- The Baader-Meinhof Experiment
- The kick inside
- Have you come here to play Jesus?
- Fallen stars
- The living newspaper
- Toast to the war
- The ones we left behind
- A mother's heart
- The heist
- The boy and the milk
- I know you are but what am I?
Notable Black box large-scale larps