LARP War Journal: Bad Fantasy? Really?
So not too long ago as some of us know, ESPN had the balls to advertise their upcoming fantasy football season, but apparently they couldn’t do this without mocking another hobby. Going so far as to label fantasy football as “good fantasy” and LARPing as “bad fantasy” (Not linking because it doesn’t deserve to be shared). What even is that? This lit a fire in me as it did many other LARPers out there. For me my initial thought was “So good fantasy is sitting behind a keyboard or phone to watch/bet on other people actually doing things?”
But you know this is an outlet and better than a tirade on another person’s hobby. You see I can admit that that way of thinking is wrong because you shouldn’t think the right way to promote one hobby is to bash another. We LARPers have spent years trying to mold a better image of what this is. I’m not going to bash the movies that have somewhat twisted the image of LARPing because they have at least brought interest to it by a percentage of players, but at the same time people actually invested in this hobby have needed to show people what they are actually looking at when they think LARPing. I say hobby, but that’s not it to everyone. I won’t even use the word escape as not all are trying to run away from reality. To many this is another past time like playing videogames, to many it has the same level of physical demand as any other sport out there (yeah you try to fight the ones who actually clash with real swords and armor), to others it is what you do when you want to hang out with friends.
I have said this numerous times before, but I will say it again. For me, LARPing was something I needed new to shake up the routine of my life. Video games weren’t giving me the same satisfaction at the time, talking to people online wasn’t giving me enough interaction throughout the week, and overall I didn’t feel like I was putting any of my creativity to use. Being introduced to LARPing solved all that for me. I wasn’t just playing a video game, I was in the driver seat myself. Casting the spells, fighting, feeling the rush and pain, talking to people in person rather than over a mic/phone. I have a decent amount of friends online, but they are just that. Not to mention many today would rather talk to each other online rather than get out of the house to actually interact. LARPing was the step forward needed to meet new people. I mean you couldn’t guess who you would get to know from getting out there. People from all walks of life, professions, interests, not at all the cliche of nerd/geek either. Then LARPing also gave me the opportunity to get creative with my hands in a way that I wasn’t up to that point. Making my own distinguishable spells, for the most part my own garb, my own weapons, everything felt unique to me and the character I wanted to be on the field.
Still not trying to bash anyone, though LARPing is a sport. This is a thing people actually go out and do rather than watching other people play. We take bruises, we give bruises, we run ourselves into the dirt. I’m sure many will assume that we are all just tapping each other with foam swords and what not. However it is a different story when you are actually fighting someone to take that hit and keep fighting. My very first event I walked away with more bruises than I could count and I had never felt more alive in that moment. There was even a time I had almost everything torn in my left knee and I still kept coming out till it was impossible to do anything with. The physical level is demanding depending on the game, but at the top you wouldn’t walking in thinking your are going to beat everyone. Not when you are combating players who have put the time into practicing every week, even before the event begins. I would laugh at anyone who believes you simply swing and that’s it. The more hardcore fighters we have a name for, and you know what it is? Stick jocks. Some might take offense to it, but that is what you call people who come out for the fighting primarily. Guess why that is? Because LARPing IS a sport, it can be a sport.
I’ve made more friends than I ever would have before LARPing. Never thought I would care for anyone outside of my little town, and yet here I am meeting up with people who live all around the state and even crossing over into the next one. Tell me what the chances are that you will meet up with people you game with in other hobbies. You might see them once in a full moon if it isn’t professional, but for us you are seeing them every week or every other week The best experience for me is when we have campout adventures. That means an adventure that starts Friday and goes into Sunday. Well Saturday night mostly, but depends on the game. Either way that is three days you get to spend with people who came out to enjoy the same thing as you every month. You can be in character, out of character, but that’s more effort put in than most other people put in themselves.
Also I do think it goes without saying that there are many army vets and what not who do this, so I do ask you if mocking the hobby is something you would even dare to to their face. Ignorance is bliss, but never assume only a certain kind of person does a certain thing.
Overall I just hope that the person(s) who made that video are taking notes on the fire they lit that day. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t because they were clearly looking for clicks and flamebait. Any way you look at it this is a mistake that I do hope others think twice before making themselves.