Amber and Conor from LARP Lab were so generous with their time, I decided to make this interview a two-parter. Today, find out what makes LARPing fun. And if you haven’t read part one of this interview, check it out here!
IGP: What do you find most enjoyable about LARPing?
Conor: So many things to say! A lot of people say they like Larping for the fun of the moment and also the stories they get to tell. For me – it’s the camaraderie – both within and outside of a game. In a one-shot game, desperately working with some new-found allies to solve some problem in the nick-of-time – it’s a rush – it feels great… and it’s a shared experience, so you probably just made a friend outside of the larp, too. In serial games, when you ‘live’ through years of such intense moments – it’s a different kind of feeling, but, it’s also great. It’s usually what keeps me coming back to serial games. Now, bear in mind that that it doesn’t matter that these ‘intense moments’ weren’t real – they feel real in the moment, and, the memory of that experience feels real, too. Sound Nuts? Well – when you watch a scary movie – it’ll feel real enough in that moment to get an emotional response. Now think what it’d be like to be a character IN that scary movie, fighting to survive with some friends. That – that feeling – and the memories of that experience – that is what I love about Larping.
Amber: So many things, but I think the favourite is a chance to play someone else different from me, and the challenges that can bring.
IGP: What advice would you give to a newbie who has never been involved in LARP before?
Conor: Picard Larps. Seriously though – go out and try it. Don’t look it up on YouTube, because you can’t watch it. It doesn’t look right when watched; it’s missing the transformative power of imagination. And when we watch stuff, we are letting someone else do the imagination for us. Larping is an interactive experience and not a passive one – you have to go out and try it – it’s the only way to understand. As for practical advice: Don’t Buy Anything – not at first.
Larps typically form communities, and, you can and should reach out to them to help you fit your basic needs for a first game. See if you want to come back before committing a ton of time and money to getting costuming and props. Instead, be prepared to borrow. Most games are prepared to help new people like this, and if not the game itself, the community of players will.
Often times, you’ll find you already have at least half of what you need. If you are going to play a weekend long game: Get long-underwear, waterproof socks, and comfortable footwear that you could hike in. And – even if you are really into it and you can’t wait… heed these words: You costume shouldn’t be perfect on your first game. Instead, plan to let it grow as the character does.
Amber: LARP is an experiential activity and to really understand it you need to experience it. Pick a genre or setting that you’re familiar with, and contact the organizers ahead of time to let them know you’re interested, new to the game, and this is your first time LARPing. Every organizer I know will help out new folks or find a member of staff to help because they want to make sure those new to the game enjoy it as much as they can. Don’t hesitate to ask the organizers or staff person any questions or air any concerns you have, either.
IGP: What in your mind makes for a good LARP event?
Conor: Any event that I can tell a good story afterward was a good event. Sometimes, it’s because a cool plot-thing happened… but… don’t rely on other people to entertain you. Instead – plan on making your own fun for yourself and others. That is really, more than anything, what will make for a fun event. And great stories. I’ll give an example. You could play a thief – and rob other characters – and getting loot and getting ahead that may be fun for you… but it is kind-of ignoring other players completely. Now, if you go and play a thief – but deliberately get caught in the act and then make up fantastical and obviously untrue reasons why you had your hand in that bag of coin… that’s engaging – and suddenly interesting. If you go and do that – you go to entertain – not wait for others to entertain you – not only will you have a good event, but, you’ll make others do, too. It’s hard – especially at first – but I promise you that you’ll have more fun if you choose not to be a Wallflower. But you have the best excuse if you are normally shy – it’s a Larp – you aren’t you!
Amber: This is a loaded question because what I feel makes for a good game someone else might roll their eyes at or disagree with. That being said, what I feel makes a good game: – It’s inclusive as much as possible. While your character might not always have something to do with the plot all the time, they have regular opportunities to get involved and participate in plotlines. – There is respect between all players and the players and staff. In-game things may get heated, your character may hate another character, etc. but as long as out-of-game everyone still treats everyone with respect and kindness as needed. Example: If in-game you kill someone’s character and that character is permanently gone, you don’t go rub it in their face out-of-game or be disrespectful of the fact that they just lost something that they invested time and energy into. Instead take a moment to say you’re sorry out-of-character and let them talk a bit, make sure they know there aren’t any hard feeling out-of-character on your end, etc.- People spend less time nit-picking over rules, you don’t need to memorize a bazillion rules, and instead there’s more focus put on participating in the storylines and building that story with your fellow player’s characters and actually role-playing.- Use of props as much as possible. If something can be done as a prop or shown with special effects make up, that just enhances the atmosphere than having to perpetually suspend your disbelief for every little thing (ex. no, that’s not a 3×5 index card, it’s an old tome, rather than finding a really cool looking old book prop).
Thanks again to Amber and Conor for taking the time to explain what LARP Lab does. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m just itching to give LARPing a try.