LARP is Mutual World Building
When you attend a LARP event, you are going there for a reason. You are there to enjoy yourself by getting lost for a while in a fantasy. Yes, LARP is about friendship. LARP is about the community. It is about sword fighting. It is about camping. It is about being outside with friends and enjoying nature. It is about all of those things, but you can get those same joys from other things.
You could just go camping with your friends and spend some time beating each other with boffer weapons. That isn't why we get dressed up and go out to events, though. That's basically what fighter practice is for. There are those of you out there that are looking for that, and that's wonderful. I enjoy spending time just beating my friends with foam and then having a party. That's a good time, and it's worth doing once in a while.
If that is what you are looking for, then there are plenty of boffer games out there. They are a filled with great communities, and are truly enjoyed by the people who are looking for those experiences. Games like Dagorhir are a great example. They're not worried about building a cohesive whole because they exist for the boffer fighting. Call me elitist, but I don't think of Dagorhir or similar games as LARPs. They are great Boffer Games. They are focused on combat and camaraderie. They are great at what they focus on.
My personal background isn't in those boffer games. I come from a boffer LARP. The game I'm most familiar with, Eldaraenth, has it's roots in the SCA and Renfaire re-enactments. It got it's birth from the desire to add a fantasy element to those cultures. When I started playing Eldaraenth 13 years ago, that belief and focus in immersion were just considered the standard. Regrettably, I feel that Eldaraenth has lost that over the last decade, and as a game leader, I know that I bear the responsibility for that.
That's why I went looking for how to regain what we had lost, and that's when I came across this video:
A lot of this video is focused on the kit and costume of the game. It focuses on the physical representation of immersion, and I think that is extremely important, but it isn't the end all be all of immersion. I am lucky that I play in a fairly small game that has a truly dedicated player base. There are quite a few older, more veteran players that are willing to really help out with getting newer players geared up and kitted up. I am extremely grateful for that. I think without them, Eldaraenth would have gone the way of the dodo a long time ago. For now, I feel like the original culture of the game is on life support, and needs an infusion of new immersion.
One of the most important things I think we can do for our game, and perhaps you can do for your games, is to remember the goal. We are coming together at events for the purpose of creating a mutual fantasy.
No mater what type of LARP game you're playing, there is a setting and a world that comes with it. To me, that world is the core, the heart, of the LARP. Breathing life into the world is most important thing you can do to help rebuild that immersion that has been lost, or to grow it organically.
Focusing on the physical representation is a good start. It can help you get into character. It can help you define who your character is and why your character does what it does. The costume and accessories are not your character, though. You character is the persona that you're going to use, and the best thing you can do to improve your character isn't to develop a kit, it's to define your character and then do your best to stay in it.
Role playing is the heart of Live Action Role Playing. Being in-character is the core of that. I love the accouterments of garb, weapons, and accessories, and I do my best to increase my own kit quality and help those around me increase theirs. It is amazing to increase the reality and feel of our world in that way. It makes for better pictures and easier role play.
The role play itself, though, is the goal. The kit isn't the goal. The weapons aren't the goal.
The kit video is great because it brings about the most important concept that every LARPer should take to heart: We are a community and we should help each other to be better. We should help each other have a better time. For me, I think we should not just limit ourselves to the fighting and the costuming. We should be focusing on helping each other get into the game.