LARPing and Society, a reflection

[If you don’t know anything about LARP let me clarify what LARPing is. First off for those of you whom don’t know what LARP stands for it means Live Action Role Play. It’s similar to role playing games like D&D but much of the character interaction is actually acted out rather then just spoken. I don’t LARP D&D the group I’m in plays Vampire the Masquerade. Witch is a game set in the modern day using a re-imagined version of the traditional vampire and is one of the games included in White Wolf’s World of Darkness setting/game series. The game I play in is part of something called OWBN or One World By Night. OWBN is basically one huge World of Darkness campaign linking games from all over the world together into one world. The Chronicle (that’s what OWBN calls and individual cities game) I play in is called The Rivers Edge. It encompasses the Lacrosse Domain (the in game term for a Chronicle… basically) witch in clouds the city and the outlaying area. Other cities, like New York, Chicago, Washington DC, have their own Chronicles]

Firstly LARP isn’t easy. It requires a huge amount of thought and planning. Reading books, thinking of new ways to abuse you powers, thinking of ways to get what you need whether by making deals or taking it by force. Since the game is played by such a large group of people the character interaction is never forced. If your character wouldn’t hang out with some one else’s character the story teller doesn’t have to make up a reason you two have to play nice. Also there’s the whole political aspect of the game. There’s a functioning government all with in the game and comprised (mostly) of PC characters.

The depth of the game really makes it become a second life. For every game you attend you get experience points with a cap on the amount you can get each month. Between games you can spend this exp to get new abilities and powers and such. There are no character level (I.E. there’s no such thing as a Level 14 Vampire Warrior) in stead you “buy” abilities and the like all of witch has an assigned “cost”. I’m sure most of you don’t need any more explanation. For those of you who do.

Since it’s played in so many cities and all the games are linked you can travel to games all over the world in character. In fact this weekend I’m going to Green bay (I live in Lacrosse right now) to play at their game. You meet a staggering number of people playing this game. It’s a fantastic way to make friends especially if you like role playing (and not “roll” playing >>).

Most people seem to have this notion that gamers are recluse people that fear social interaction. Witch isn’t true at all (well for some it is but by no means the majority). Must of use just find most “normal people” the be uninteresting and don’t wish to associate with them (this means everyone that like the song “Crack dat Soul-Ja Boy”). That or they are mocked of there choice of hobbies, which is just asinine.

Also keep in mind I haven’t even gotten to the whole combat aspect. Personally I LARP for the role play not the combat, but I know that there are those people out there that get all hard off being able to give some one the PVP beat down. If that’s your thing then you should defiantly try LARP. It dose take time to become a combat monster but when you’re throwing down in combat with a group of friends beating the pants off some big bady. You can feel the energy coming off of people. It’s that kinda thrill you get form live stage acting, but it’s combined with that triumph of vanquishing the thing that has been a bane to the players for oh so long.

Going back to the role play aspect I just have to say that the feeling you get when you have an intense scene. I’ve seen some amazing acting, and I’d like to think I’ve done some as well. Things like a death, a political meeting, even just a brief exchange of insults feels so much more exhilarating when done in person actually acting out all the body langue and every thing. It’s the total emersion in a character that you just don’t get in other types of role playing. I think it’s the fact that the game is full on PVP with no limits on what you can do to someone as long as no one finds out. There’s always that chance that that one insult will be your last, and since it takes so long to get a character to a high power level death is always a real threat. Also it’s not a gear based game so a starting character can’t just deck themselves out in the best armor and weapons and rock everyone.

I guess I’m just sick of being looked down on for what I like to do. I suppose it’s not so much a “looked down” on thing as it is a being “thought of as odd” sort of thing. It still bothers me, especially with the amount of time, effort, and practices it requires.

I have thought of a few reasons as to why role playing aren’t main stream interests and most likely never truly will be;

  • Firstly – There’s no winner. Sure you my win a fight or an argument or what ever but there is no ultimate winner. You don’t ever win at a D&D game you just survive to face the next challenge. It’s about the journey not the destination, since usually that’s the grave.

  • Secondly – You can’t really watch it. Most main stream activities are things that are entertaining to both participate in and watch others do. Role playing isn’t that much fun to watch unless you already know how to play, and even then you’re gunna want to be playing not watching.

  • Thirdly – It requires a lot of knowledge. Most sports can have the rules explained to you in the course of one or two games. I know people whom have been LARPing for almost 20 years and are still learning things about the game. There are more the 20 books for Vampire the Masquerade alone, and that’s only a piece of the World of Darkness in witch the game takes place.

  • Forth – There is no tangible reward. OWBN doesn’t give out trophies. I suppose if you wanted to look at it in a “what do I get out of it” sort of way then I’d say the only thing I can think of that you “get” is renown, fame, infamy. If you have a powerful character or even one that has a unique quark or costume, word of your character will sped. There have been a few times I’ve gone to games outside of Lacrosse and had people I’ve never met recognize my character. Granted this fame doesn’t extent past the LARP world, but having a character that is feared, or revered by entire Domains, it’s like being famous. But you get to keep your personal life.

I’m not sure what I was trying to say with this whole thing. I guess I just want people to give LARP a chance. Though I suppose must people aren’t the right kind of people to be LARPers.

~Justin Time

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4 Responses to LARPing and Society, a reflection

  1. keljeck says:

    I think you’re missing the major reason why LARP isn’t mainstream, never will be, and why it’s frowned upon. In my mind the main reason is its peculiarity. Children go outside and play cops and robbers, this is not generally seen as acceptable behavior for adults in our society, unless we do it with our children.

    I think the idea is that adults are supposed to engage society, that they have shed the innocence of the past and part of that innocence is imaginary play. The creative energies involved are usually forgotten or channeled into the arts, which society prides above play. Which if we were going to break down LARP, we would all have to agree that’s what it is.

    So society sees adults fleeing itself in order to pretend to live in a fantasy world. It sees creative energies being spent on a past time that has no social benefit (I mean to the culture as a whole, not as in tight groups which you demonstrated). So I believe this is why you are looked down on despite the effort. I could spend a lot of effort building legos, I could even develop a unique skill in lego building. However if I spent a lot of time building my legos it would seem peculiar, even if I did it in a group.

    And Lego building doesn’t involve folklore traditionally associated with the dark arts.

  2. ahno says:

    A suppose once a “norm” is established any and all that doesn’t fit with in it’s parameters is destined to be shunned.

  3. keljeck says:

    Yes, and I think it’s also important to look at:

    1. Why that norm has been set in place.

    And

    2. The degree in which society is willing to forgive an infraction.

  4. Dragonmati says:

    Wow… LARP seems like my type of thing. Too bad I don’t have time to play, nor will ever find them here 😦

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