Written by Caroline Ro
Whether it be through traveling, literature or art, there is something undeniably compelling about being able to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Through live action role-playing (LARP), participants are able to live out alternate lives as characters in fantastical universes, running into battle and saving their fellow soldiers from danger.
LARP can be approximated to Dungeons and Dragons (a role-playing board game) or Skyrim (a role-playing video game), except acted out in real life. After the game-master, or coordinator, creates a fictional universe and sets rules for the players, LARP-ers are left to their own devices to choose their characters, learn their backstories, wear costumes and gear up with props accordingly before they begin an event. As the fate of the universe has yet to be decided, they are given complete freedom to improvise in terms of what direction they want to take.
Universe themes can range from horror to utopian, but most LARP universes take place in historical fantasy settings, with much of the costume inspiration coming from the Renaissance period or “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Costumes often even come from Renaissance fairs, previous Halloween costumes or online stores, while weapons are made out of foam and duct tape.
Sophomore Evan Alexis first discovered LARP when he saw LARP-ers in action at Mitchell Park. Curious, he went over and learned what they were doing, going on to attend his first league event at Peers Park around seven years ago. He decided to continue his hobby as he found that he enjoyed the freedom LARP-ing gave him. “You get to be independent, and it’s really fun,” Alexis said.
Others, like juniors Raj Shrimali and Trevor Paley, were introduced to the activity through family and friends. “Both my sisters played LARP, and so I got into it,” Paley said. “I wanted to LARP as well because it seemed cool.”
LARP also helps players build relationships with a variety of different people and create new circles of friends. “The [LARP] community is really nice and there are a lot of people that I’ve met through LARP who are great friends of mine,” Alexis said.
For those who are unfamiliar with LARP, it can seem strange or outlandish, a misconception many LARP-ers are aware of and wish would be cleared. “I guess a lot of people just assume that LARP-ers are really weird people,” Shrimali said .“We’re normal people too.”
There is also a complexity to LARP hidden in the backstories and details of the universe that, at first glance, can go unnoticed. “It’s not [necessarily] just about attacking people with foam swords; there’s also role-play and a story to it,” Paley said.
LARP-ing serves as an outlet for creativity and imagination for players that can distract from the mundanity of everyday life. “I think that it’s getting more and more stressful with school nowadays and there’s more competition,” Alexis said. “I think LARP-ing is just a great way to escape.”