LARP game has players cope with the expectations placed on different genders

It’s not hard to understand the appeal of LARPing (live-action role playing). A player can both cosplay and let go of their inhibitions in a safe space by acting out a character-driven narrative. Though I’ve never LARPed before, actress Felicia Day convinced me of its potential for sheer fun in an episode of Supernatural where her character got to be the Queen of a popular LARP and was practically worshiped by the other players. Definitely appealing. But perhaps the best aspect of LARPing is that it is a medium entirely shaped by its players backgrounds and intents, and can be…

Exit Berlin

The strange appeal of being locked in a room for an hour with friends

It is Saturday night, February 27th, and I am trapped in a submarine. Moments ago I was dancing on my tip-toes across the sidewalk, oddly gallant amid the bitter air of the Bristol harborside. Now there’s a tall man in a yellow jacket bent-double in the corner, sick from weeks of tinned peaches—I try to stare through his facade before shying away as his eyes turn towards mine. I am not really on a submarine. We are pretending. Five adults fumbling around a concealed wooden cube for printed cards and hidden cabinets. A digital timer counts down from 60 minutes to…


LARPing for Social Good: The Power of Live Action Role Play

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Fantasy entertainment once considered only for children has evolved into a social tool for diversity. LARPing inspires empathy and understanding for gender identity and oppression issues. When Anna Anthropy created Dys4ia (2012), an autobiographical game about her experience taking hormone replacements as a trans woman, she sought to give players insight into her unique perspective. Anthropy knew that shared experiences can raise people’s awareness and even inspire compassion for diversity. The power of empathizing with others could ultimately lead to kinder behavior and a better place for society as…


Role-playing games are just like medieval oral culture

You’re woken from your slumber by the piercing cries of a man in agony and the splintering of wood. The room is dark, though the glowing embers in the grate cast a dull glow across rapidly moving shapes. All about you is pandemonium: guttural panicked sounds of man and beast. Its stench strikes your attention before you realize it’s stood beside you but in the fire’s dying glow you can see the heft of a large arm reaching out to grab you. Roll for initiative. /// Hwaet. This word—usually translated as “listen”—marks the opening of Beowulf, one of the rarest…