I Was 1337 Before I Even Knew It

This article is actually quite a balanced one on LARPing (though there are a few inaccuracies). Some quotes and my comments follow.

LARPing, however, has always been the upper echelons of dorkdom, an activity considering by some as too geeky for even the geekiest of geeks.

As I related previously, I was a LARPer before started playing table-top role-playing games. Shit, man, I had no idea you table-top geeks thought that we were even geekier than you! I actually viewed it the other way round. We were more ‘evolved’ because LARPing is more social than table-top gaming. But since I am a table-top gamer now as well, I don’t hold such rigid views anymore. You can put your proverbial Sword of Smiting +5 and your dice away now, thank you very much.

There’s some cliquishness and separation between the role-playing entities — some SCA people think the Ren Fest is for pussies, some LARPers think SCA fighters are dumb jocks, some tabletop role players think LARPers take it too far. In that, it’s not much different from other subcultures. Just like any large organization, there are flurries of inner turmoil: bickering, drama, arguing over how the games should be run.

LOL. Yeah.

Even some role-playing gamers themselves say the level of psychological immersion in LARP is troubling, blurring a critical line between reality and fantasy.

I have to agree with this statement somewhat. Some of the people that I call ‘obsessives’, often took it far more seriously than I was comfortable with.

It’s easy to have a cheap laugh at LARPers’ expense. When goth kids playing Vampire lean against a wall at City Club and “obfuscate”, crossing their arms over their chests to signify they’re invisible, it’s hard to stifle a giggle.

What the fuck ever! Stop laughing! Well, okay, it is funny, I suppose. There was once this girl in a LARP I played in, and she had this habit of crossing her arms over her chest, because she was a sad, pathetic goth (as opposed to the happy, non-pitiable variety) and because she was a bit weird. Anyway, we never knew whether she was Obfuscated or just being her sad goth self. Highly annoying. Of course, she pointed out angrily that she was a Toreador (of course), so why the hell would she even have Obfuscate (since Toreador do not normally have Obfuscate as a power)? Whatever.

“Parts of their personality tend to bleed into whatever character they play. You pick up cues to someone’s personality. Jack Nicholson is a great actor, but in every role he plays, he’s Jack Nicholson. It’s the same thing with LARP — the good and bad things in your personality stand out.”

I think this is true of even table-top, though with table-top gaming, the immersion level is much, much lower. Hence, LARPing is far more addictive (and often more fun) than table-top gaming, in my experience.

Anyway, I am not really sure about this ‘bleeding’ of personality into one’s character. I suppose it’s true, though I always considered the fact that my characters behaved too similarly to my real personality was failing of my acting ability (which is negligible) and perhaps my questionable creative ability. This is one of the reasons why, with the last LARP character I played, I tried to make her as different from me as possible. I figured that the most foreign thing to me would be to play someone who is insane. It’s a shame I didn’t get to play her for very long.

Thinking about it more, though, perhaps I would agree. Most of my characters, even my table-top characters, are all similar to each other (and to me) in some way. For example, I think all of my Vampire LARP characters, and possibly my Werewolf LARP character as well (I would have to dig up their character sheets to verify), had a Code of Honour. Usually, their Code of Honour entailed that they would not knowingly slay a Mortal/human and/or an innocent. For my table-top characters, all of them have some sort of standard, some good-aligned moral code which they live by.

I think that playing someone who is evil would be even more difficult than playing someone who is insane, at least the way I play. I like to try to understand my characters as much as I can, and this involves a lot of thinking. Perhaps that’s why it’s such a challenge for me to play characters that deviate too far from my personality. And I guess that is what made me a boring LARPer in my eyes. If I ever go back to LARPing, I’d try harder to explore a character that is very different from me.

Walton also says role playing can be extremely useful in education. He has two kids, and plays RPGs with them frequently. “It’s great for kids because it teaches them how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and how to see things from a different point of view.”

Trombley, the high school teacher, also supports LARP in education, and sometimes has his students use role playing to analyze characters in plays or literature.

Whether in a childhood game or in the adult world, everyone has role played in some shape or form at one point.

“When you think about it, people use it all the time in business, role playing transactions,” Walton says. “And the military uses role playing when they stage mock terrorist attacks. It’s an excellent tool.”

No shit. The more that people recognise this, the better. And then people will stop calling role-players ‘Satanists’ or ‘murderers’ or whatever.

“As it’s become more widespread, the rumors and urban legends fade away. It used to be geeky and evil, and now it’s just geeky. Geekdom in general has become more popular. Certainly the popularity of home computers has helped that. More people consider themselves geeks because they know how to fix a computer when it breaks down.”

Sure. And I see my childhood being harvested to make comic book and video game films that are hit-and-miss in their suckage levels as well. Did you know they were making a Watchmen film and planning on making a Sin City TV series? Geez! The Sin City film was an utterly brilliant adaptation, but that can be said of far too few adapatations. I fear that the TV series will not have much Frank Miller input, and will thusly be utterly crap. Uh… Sorry, digression.

Anyway, go read the article if you’re at all interested in role-playing games, and LARPing. :-) The Guardian Gamesblog presents the article to video gamers to show that LARPers, too, have a ‘bad’ reputation in the mainstream. But what the post does not point out is that LARPers and table-top gamers are far more marginalised than video gamers.

[Via GamePolitics]