In my previous post I got one of the more socially acceptable topics out of the way… so now it’s time for the full in the face, double barrel shotgun of geek:
Live Action Role-Playing, aka. Live Roleplaying, aka. LARP, aka. LRP, aka. Freeforming, aka. Freeform Interactive Theatre, aka. Cross Country Pantomime.
You might think I’m joking, but all of the above are names I’ve heard applied to the hobby.
Yes, on occasion I dress in silly costumes and run around being an idiot with weaponry. Yes, I am an adult. Yes, I have social skills. Yes, I can pass for a normal human being if I really chose to do so. I’d rather pass for somebody who’s prepared to do something a bit daft in the name of fun, though.
But it gets worse. I’m one of the secret elite – I don’t just play these strange costumed games, but I actually organise and run them too.
(note: not actually very secret, nor particularly elite)
I put time and effort into creating coherent settings and plots, then adjusting them to remain fun as the players go out of their way to do things I hadn’t expected or planned for. I have to think on my feet to react to their sudden and inexplicable plans. I have to try to keep pace and atmosphere whilst trying to work out what’s going to happen next after the players came up with a plan that’s so out of left field that it may well have started on another planet.
It’s a lot of work, coming up with a game that makes sense and where the players get to go through an emotional rollercoaster because of half imagined things that are going on around them. But it’s worth it. It’s a deep, engaging and frequently exhausting hobby – both physically and emotionally.
I get a kick out of it because, when I’m running games I have to stay one step ahead of the players to keep things entertaining and exciting… but it’s at it’s most rewarding when they get themselves one step ahead of me. It’s at those moments that I know the game has taken on a life of it’s own and the player are running with it. It’s then that I know they’re really into it, and I can feed off their enthusism… putting it back into the game to build in more barriers for them to break down before bringing the story to a fulfilling conclusion.
I get a kick out of seeing everyone involved get invested in the game. The way that people’s characters grow and gain stories that can be told again and again as the years go by. I like the way that even when a particular game was years ago, the stories can carry on and grow in the telling, becoming modern epics in the world of LARP. Those stories can be told by people who’ve never met the people involved, spread by word of mouth across campfires, whispered from vampire to vampire in a gothic mansion or spoken of in hushed tones in the foxholes of the forgotten battlefields of the 41st milennium.
It’s a hobby that makes people think on their feet, and it makes people look at things from different perspectives. You can throw people into experiences they’d never meet in real life and, between everyone involved, build a story around it that they’ll remember for years. It’s also a hobby that, no matter how into it you get, you can never entirely take it too seriously. When it boils down to it, it’s fun – and it doesn’t take much at all to remind you of that, even when you just saw two of your friends cut down by an orc with an outrageous accent and green “skin” that’ll refuse to fully wash out of their hairline for days to come.
If you think this kind of thing is something people should keep quiet about and hide away from their employers, then I’ve got a suggestion for you: Quit whining, paint yourself green, dress yourself lie a mad-max reject, pick up a foam axe, a NERF gun and an atrocious accent and stop taking everything so damned seriously. Enjoy yourself whilst running around like a loon in the company of others. If that’s not your bag, how about putting on a regency dress (or doublet and hose) and spending a weekend drinking tea and gin whilst the lower classes outside your pavillion beat the crap out of each other for your pleasure. Cheer on your favourite ne’er do well if such things appeal to you.
Either way, there’s several thousand people in the UK alone having a great laugh doing this kind of thing. Why not give it a shot?
This is the second of my “Speak Out With Your Geek Out” posts. There will be more to come over the next few days.