LARPs: Roleplaying

My last post I talked about the pros and cons of LARPing, I figured for my first post specifically about a pro/con I would start with what a lot of people consider the most important part, role-playing.

Role-playing is the most identifiable part of LARPing. The interaction between people ranges from the most intense situations down to the worst ham acting known to man. Also people’s attitudes about role-playing plays a big influence in this as well.

I want to note that this is my opinion, everyone has a different experience and your mileage may vary.

PROs:

The best role-playing experience I have ever been involved in was LARPing. There are times when a group all hit the same groove of being in the moment that all thoughts of the outside world disappeared. For those who have never role-played in any form, it is the ultimate form of escapism. You really feel like you are in another world.

This type of role-playing drowns out thoughts of work, politics, home problems, etc. All that is happening is the situation between you and the others. The relationships are an extremely exaggerated for both good and bad. You would die for your in game friends and would gladly salt the earth of your enemies’ graves. It is like the most intensive TV drama you could name. After a really good role-playing session you are both exhilarated and exhausted.

A good role-play session will last for years in retelling. These sessions are usually what comprise a LARPers list of stories they talk about (ok, even if the people aren’t interested in hearing about it, the LARPer will remember fondly).

CONS

1. Average level of role-play:

LARP role-play overall is lower quality in acting/interacting then all other mediums of role-play I have been exposed to (such as tabletop, online, forum/PBEM).

First it should be noted that LARPers are not innately actors, they don’t do it as a living, and most don’t engage in a lot of other speaking type hobbies (such as a toastmaster or other public speaking clubs). If you aren’t really in the mood, too tired from being up too long, too distracted because of real life or just having a bad day can impact the best actor’s performance. While I do think I am fairly good at role-play, I know some of my performances have been horrible, just like everyone else.

2. The role-play snob quotient:  A second negative issue about role-playing at a LARP (and honestly this is probably more about the community which will be more in detail later) is the snob quotient.

I might talk about the average level of role-play being less at larping, there are a lot of other aspects that can make a weekend really fun (the sense of community, just being away from the real world for a weekend, sharing a hobby with a few dozen others, etc). I have had weekends that were fantastic, that didn’t have great role-play, but a great time hanging with people.

Unfortunately, some people focus as role-play is the only reason to be there. Now this is valid for them, and I can understand if that is their total focus. However, I have witnessed a lot of people act in a very demeaning manner to individuals who just aren’t good at role-playing.

These people will ignore and cast out individuals that do not meet their “expectation”. I know that it isn’t anyone’s job to teach, but my opinion is if I claim to be one of the LARP’s role-playing leaders, then it is my responsibility to help others so it improves the overall experience.

Someone who is not good at role-playing will not get better if you don’t try and help them. In order to help them (in my opinion) is to invite them into your group, treat them as one of you and in my experience they learn and become better role-players and sometimes great friends.

The funny part about this is that there have been many people who claim to be great role-players, who demean and belittle others, yet the sadly ironic part is that they really aren’t that good at role-playing themselves.

Conclusion: I have not covered the relationships formed during role-play, I will do that during my post about the community itself.

It may sound in the end that I am bagging on role-play at larping. I don’t really think that is the case.

LARPing is made up of much more than just role-play, and even the role-play can be intense and fun. Would I personally come just for the role-play, probably not. I feel I would get more bang for my buck on a tabletop game, however like I said there is more to it (and I will cover that later). Role-playing is a great avenue at LARP, but it would not be the sole reason I recommend LARPing to anyone.

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