LARP Isn’t What It Used To Be

It’s usually when I should be prepping for something super heavy-duty and important (like NaNoWriMo) that I go into a wild frenzy of house-cleaning and/or become terribly distracted by a shiny new discovery. Let’s just that say that, of those two choices, the bottle of Febreeze has fallen to the wayside.

LARP! My interest has well and truly been captured by an upspringing of media attention over communities of adults who like to play pretend together in their backyard. Yes, I’m late to the party. LARPing has been going on for over 40 years (and probably a lot longer than that), and yet it still seems to get a lot of flack from people as a “nerd sport” and constant derision from Christian communities that believe it to be path to Satanism. To which I just really… have to laugh.

If you haven’t noticed, nerds are on the rise. They are all too often the movers and shakers in the science and entertainment industries. So what’s so bad about being a nerd? Nerd icon Wil Wheaton described nerds as people who love things expressively and whole-heartedly. And, if the recent pre-sales of tickets to the upcoming Star Wars movie is any indicator ($6.5M in the US already for a movie that won’t release for another two months), there’s a huge population of loving nerds out there gunning for a first look at a galaxy far, far away. Statistically, you’re probably one of them. No, I didn’t do the math (just roll with it, hyuck hyuck). Which is all to say that being called a nerd nowadays doesn’t really have the same kind of gut-punch effect it did ten years ago. Nerds unite! … into the next largest first-world power?

LARP2
Courtesy of Pixabay

Secondly, the allegation that LARPing leads to the occult is just simply not true. I wasn’t around in the 70s, so I don’t know what caused this blanket idea that roleplaying in a fantasy world was turning children into satan-worshippers. Recently, I read a devotional by my own grandfather (one of the most godly men I’ve ever known) from years ago in which he stated the dangers of Dungeons & Dragons. I’m certainly not going to argue with him, because I don’t know or understand the social circumstances of his era that lead him to feel convicted that. But if ever Dungeons & Dragons or its successors was dangerous, it isn’t any longer. Performing healing rituals by chanting the very innocuous “Healing Wind for 5 HP!” and throwing a beanbag at someone does not seem tainted with witchcraft. Nor does playing a role in a party of heroes out to fight the forces of evil, with cardboard bucklers and PVC-foam swords. For the curious Christian who may still be concerned about the spiritual dangers of LARPing, go check out www.Christian-gamers-guild.org’s fantastic write-up on the roleplaying experience and the mission field that it offers: it does a great job of dispelling some of those well-intended, but largely misapplied pre-conceptions about LARPing.

So, with that said! Here’s how I’ve been distracting myself:

LARPs: The Series – A very funny comedy-drama web-series about a how a group of LARPers’ real lives intersect with their roleplay. I’ll admit, this is my current obsession. Disclaimer: it does include a lot of language and the occasional off-colored joke.

The Nerdist presents Realm of Larp – a “reality” show (or mockumentary-documentary?) about a LARP game that follows a band of heroes during a single event. It was surprisingly fun to see how the players fell into their characters and laughed about their in-game decisions. I highly recommend if only for laughs, but it really does shine some light on what a game may actually look like.

This photo-album of LARPers from Switzerland – This proves the fact that nerds can looks pretty dang cool in period costume (and not just fantasy or medieval settings!).

Snaga: Jeden Kmen – a twist on the typical LARP group, this group of players from the Czech Republic show off their mad costuming skills by becoming a tribe of orcs from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Europeans definitely seem to take the cake when it comes to making a LARP look like an actual scene from a movie. Check out their raiding pictures too!

 

And now, back to the grindstone of writing prep. … maybe after one more youtube video.

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