So, I’m going to talk about something I shockingly haven’t really talked about here yet. LARP! Or immersive things! If you’re like “hey Echo y’all are cool and amazing and pretty sexy and all but I don’t know what that is!” Well… I’m going to blatantly copy someone:
Live Action Roleplaying is a mix of improvisational theater, adventure sports, collaborative storytelling, and a lot of other things. You can think of it as playing make believe with a budget. Everyone gets a character to play, a world to play in, and for a few days we pretend to be people in another world. There’s no script to follow or lines to memorize. You do whatever you think your character would do! It’s a whole lot of fun.Event Horizon FAQ
I’ll toss a few more links at the bottom, too. Oh, and before anyone asks: No, you do not have to run around the woods shouting fireball! like a nerd. I have to the best of my knowledge never done that, though I do highly recommend running around in woods if the weather is okay and you are under the oversight of someone who is not me.
How I like describing LARP as similar to immersive theater, but you are both the actor and the audience. You see the performance, but you are also part of it, and more than that help build your experience together with all other participants. What you do is up to you: it is entirely valid to have an experience sitting in the corner thinking as your character, barely interacting with anyone.
Sweet, but why?
Well… I mean, it’s fun. A lot of fun! It is, after all, a form of entertainment. That doesn’t mean it can’t help you learn or grow too, though.
One interesting aspect of putting on another role for yourself to be in is you can experiment with how it feels in a relatively safer space. Also, because the idea of LARP depends on the idea of a shared fiction, it also requires everyone else accept that too. That’s the biggest reason why, say, putting on a dress for the first time and twirling around to see how you feel is great! But it’s not the same as being treated like something by other people. We are, after all, social creatures.
And the thing to keep in mind is that being in different shoes is visceral. LARP can have themes just like any other form of media, but as the experience gap is very small you can have some pretty damn intense emotions. You can read about the idea of “bleed” below to get a sense of how damn intense.
The Gay Shit
Soooo because I have the tran here is me jumping to more personally relevant things.
LARP has been transformative because it let me explore my sexuality and gender in a space where I felt people wouldn’t judge me. It let me be gay, bisexual, queer, asexual, and a bunch of other hard to categorize things. It let me be a woman, agender, genderqueer, and also simply not human.
It let me try on a bunch of different meatsuits to find one that fit the best. It let me wear a skirt in public the first time, let me kiss a boy, let me pretend to have genitalia I don’t have, let me be treated like I am beautiful no matter what I am.
It’s also the bad experiences. It let me also be objectified, be mansplained, to be used. To suffer, be tortured, and even die. If anything, I seek out these awful experiences because I want to understand tragedy. Despite not being cis or straight, I still am white, have financial stability, and live in a major liberal metropolis in a wealthy country. These experiences let me get more empathy for others, and hopefully help me become a better person.
That’s not to say it’s all great. I’ve had some horrible experiences with some players, and had moments afterwards that have been hugely upsetting and emotional for me. As I write this, I just last weekend spent an evening disassociating and crying because I decided to pretend to be a queer person who killed themselves. Yay.
It’s not all fucking roses, and you’ll hurt yourself. Sometimes badly.
But hey. At least you can get to go back to normalcy, which is a lot better than the invisible wounds life inflicts on you.