What is LARPing?

To LARP or not to LARP? That is the question. Actually, the question is: what is LARPing exactly? LARP stands for Live Action RolePlay, and it involves groups of people gathering to play self-created characters and act out certain situations. Generally the preserve of nerd culture, LARPing has a lot of people scratching their heads, so we’ve put together some important things to know about America’s most imaginative pastimes.

What is LARPing?

There are different kinds of LARP

The most important thing to know about LARPing is that it isn’t doesn’t just come in 1 form. The image a lot of people have of LARPing is very ‘Lord of the Rings’-y – all elves, knights and wizards. However, LARPing can be, and is, done for numerous different kinds of property. There are fantasy LARPers, horror LARPers, Sci-fi LARPers, LARPers for specific TV shows, films, or other pieces of media – if you can dress up for it, it’s probably being LARPed somewhere. So when you meet a LARPer, don’t just assume that you’re talking to somebody who puts on elf ears at the weekend.

LARPing takes a lot of admin

If you’ve ever so much as glanced at a role-playing game, you’ll know that there’s a tremendous amount of administrative work involved. In role-play you can’t so much as scratch your nose without running it through a dungeon master and 3 different dice rolls – such is the case with LARPers. Each aspect of a LARP is tightly coordinated and organized, in the same way that a tabletop RP would be. For instance, LARPers will have their own character that they play as – and the way that this character functions is all determined by the different rules and mechanisms of a given role-play. Outside the story, LARPing also takes a huge amount of organizing. LARPs can easily involve hundreds of players – which means hundreds people with whom transport needs to be arranged, timings need to be set, and actions need to be mapped out. LARPing is a very involved activity, and the sheer level of depth these players go into necessitates an equally great amount of paperwork.

LARPing takes work

People have a somewhat uncharitable view of LARPers as shoddily-costumed eyesores with sad-looking cardboard weapons – but this couldn’t be further from the truth. LARPers put extreme amounts of effort into their costumes and weapons, with a lot of them becoming pretty darn crafty as a result of their work. For example, LARPers do a huge amount of work with foam to make their weapons and the part of their costumes, with some costumes requiring very complex construction to come together. LARPers are also absolute sticklers for detail. They want to get their outfit exactly right for roleplaying – so numerous LARPing costumes have extremely intricate details to them, in order to reach as high a level of authenticity as possible.

What is LARPing?

It’s a valid hobby

Due to some less-than-kind depictions in media, a lot of people look down on LARPing as a silly hobby for nerds who have nothing better to do. However, this is fundamentally unfair to the amount of effort and dedication that goes into live-action-role-play. After all, what is fantasy football if not a role-play? What is civil war reenactment if not just historical LARPing? People see fantasy elements as a reason to dismiss LARPing as silly, but LARPers are doing their best to create a fully-realized world of their imagination, which is an admirable pursuit. LARPers bring dedication, skill, and enthusiasm to their hobby, which is more than enough of a reason to offer them the respect they deserve.