Sunday, April 21, 2013

LARP Heals

by Zoe

So, as everyone knows, last week-- the week of the Boston marathon bombings, the MIT shooting, the "manhunt" for the suspects, and the city and surrounding areas in lockdown-- was hellish. As someone who grew up in Maine, and has spent much of her life in Boston, I have always felt relatively safe here. (Like everyone, I've had my fears and reservations. But, privileged as I am, I have never felt "unsafe" in my city.) And this past week changed that. For those of us who lived through it, last week was a strange dystopia wherein innocents were killed and injured, peopled streets were emptied, and we were told to stay inside and lock our doors. Speaking personally, after the lockdown ended, I stepped into the warm spring evening, and felt at a loss. I hadn't really slept well; I had watched, on the television, hours upon hours of breaking news; I had relived, in a way only wrought possible by new media, the many tragedies that occurred this past week.

And, around 7 pm on Friday evening, I said to Chris, "I don't want to go to Cottington." I wanted to stay in my (almost) safe little den, and shut out the rest of the world. But, after some over-tired reflection, I reluctantly agreed.

This isn't going to be a play-by-play of the Cottington Woods first weekend event. It could be. I could tell you, in detail, about the wonderful things I experienced, and the equally wonderful people with whom I journeyed. I could tell you about the true magic that the staff created. Or I I could tell you how the enthusiasm of all players, PCs and NPCs alike, made the game spaces fizzle. Or the chills I got from interactions large and small. Or the special beauty of 40 or so people, from many walks of life, huddled around the same crackling fireplace. Or just how damn good it felt to run, fight, and sweat out all of the nervous, cloying tensions I had been keeping in my chest.

But I'm not going to go into too much more detail. But I am going to say is, yes, after all of the scary mess of the past week, I did indeed go to a LARP. And, despite my hesitation, I'm glad I did. And here's why.

LARP heals. I know this personally, and through the experiences of friends. No-- LARP doesn't make the world instantly better. It doesn't change everything in your life into issues tolerable and easy. It doesn't even provide a particularly believable escape from the so-called "real world."

But it does heal. LARPs, good LARPs at least, give you a place to be yourself. A place to be with loved ones who make you laugh and think. A place to narrate your stories, accompanied by the voices of friends and strangers alike. A place to be both brave and weak. A place to where you can return, again and again, and discover at least one new thing. A place with a community who reminds us that many other people, living in the same world, are kind, funny, and creative.

Like most other people in this country, after the Boston marathon tragedy, I needed some healing. Not a lot, because my life, in comparison, was only minutely affected. But, to be sure, I needed some healing. And I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a healing community. They didn't even have to try to help me-- they just were LARPers, at a beautifully written LARP. And that was what I needed. As I move on, still sad and increasingly more reflective about tragedies and loss at home and around the world, I raise my cup to all of you: thanks, Cottington. You were what many of us needed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Guest Contributor: LARP in the Media Series

I write on LARP in popular Media relatively frequently, so I’m always excited to get other perspectives. Inspired by recent conversations on facebook and elsewhere, Anthony was inspired to write this essay on the use of LARP in popular media. As a media-positive person, I think this is really provocative. I’m curious to hear people’s responses, as well as possible solutions to this problem.

Why LARP Should Not Be Portrayed in Film and Television
by Anthony Reed

Recently, Zoe made a post on her facebook page about a clip from the IFC show Portlandia; the clip was about some steampunks in a hotel, and the larger conversation spoke to the representation of LARP in media. Related to this, the Portlandia clip really bugged me, and I love Portlandia (Seth Meyers is fantastic). Within the facebook threat, people were springing to defend the clip as being what Portlandia “does”: Carrie and Fred, acting like idiots while existing inside a subculture (this time steampunk RPers), is the whole point. I understand that argument and would mostly agree, except it wasn’t Carrie and Fred being idiots that got me about this skit. It was a discussion they have with an old woman outside of the elevator. I couldn’t nail down specifically what bugged me about it, but I knew that was the scene that was sticking in my craw.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Hi everyone,
Humor me-- I know updates have been infrequent, as real life is... crazy. However, a thought just randomly occurred to me. I know there are many players who enjoy puzzles in modules-- and I know many of these same players become frustrated with puzzles that are too easy/too complicated/too frequently used. So, very simply, what makes a good module puzzle?