The Stigma Behind LARPing

L.A.R.P. is an acronym that stands for Live Action Role Play. It’s similar to tabletop role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons in the sense that players portray a character and pursue actions in a fictional world, usually a medieval environment. The difference of course is that games like Dungeons and Dragons happen just within the table, and L.A.R.P. is played out in an actual field to represent the fictional world. The players will even dress up wearing costumes like armor and leather, and use prop weapons. This hobby is sometimes off-putting to other people, and will have negative stereotypes toward the people who participate, but not all of them fit this stereotype.

The best example of the common stereotype of a LARPer is the one in the movie where I first saw an example of LARPing: Role Models. In the movie, Paul Rudd’s character, Danny, is forced to become a mentor to Augie, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse. In the movie, Augie participates in an L.A.R.P. like group. He is also portrayed as a socially-inept nerd, who doesn’t have a social life outside of his LARP campaign. This characterization of Augie does a good job of portraying the normal stereotype of a LARPer: a geek, friendless and a virgin. This however does not reflect LARPers I’ve met.

I personally do not play LARP, but I have in the past played both Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft. A close friend of mine who does play LARP gave me the idea to write this article. He is the leader of a local LARP group in Huntsville. The group is growing fairly well with numbers. However one problem he constantly encounters when the owner tries to recruit people or even mention that he LARPs, people always look down on him. It always frustrates him, especially because he doesn’t represent the LARPing stereotype.

While the LARP leader is a huge nerd, he is also very athletic, has a girlfriend and is also a very sociable and well liked person. People just assume because he does LARP, it associates him to being a loser. The problem is we still associate people by stereotypes, like assuming a male is gay because he likes theatre or assuming a female is “basic” because she likes pumpkin spice lattes. Stereotypes are still too prevalent in our society and we need to fix that. Fixing stereotypes would ease a lot of problems in the world today.

We are lucky to be living in a time where nerd culture has gone mainstream, but we still need to go further and embrace all parts of nerd culture, and not look down on anyone who participates in activities that are traditionally considered dorky. We need to understand that no one is defined by a stereotype and that everyone is an individual. Defining someone by a stereotype creates a lot of the problems in the world, and if we learned to stop associating people by them, the world would be a better place without a majority of the problems we are facing.

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