Saturday, February 11, 2017

Why Has LARP Seen a Tremendous Surge of Popularity?


During the 1970s, Live Action Role Playing (LARP) was born into the world. In an age of dungeons, dragons, game masters, and massive amounts of notebook paper there was also another movement brewing. This movement stripped down some of the rules, rid themselves of the table and planted their own two feet into the story itself. It wasn't until the late 1990s that LARP achieved popular status, with the publishing of the first universally defined LARP system, Mind's Eye Theater. In the following years LARP gained popularity steadily, but it wasn't until recently that LARP's popularity has exploded across the world. 
Today, you're only a quick web search away from finding a park near your home, gearing up, and doing epic foam battle with allies from all walks of life. But why the sudden interest in foam sword combat, dragons and interactive storytelling? Are these activities not just for nerds living in their mother's basement? Let's look at some of the influencing factors that have led to this massive surge in make-believe. 
Pop Culture - Let's face it, Hollywood loves knights and dragons as much as we do! With the film adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien's masterpiece The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings selling hundreds of millions of dollars in the box office, it’s safe to assume there are fans of mythical fantasy around the world! Rather than just being amazing stories, however, these films also opened the minds of their viewers to a desire of belonging in the film's universe. This can be translated into an increase in the number of LARP participants. Not to mention the movie Role Models, which while it didn't do a good job of accurately portraying LARP events, it sure did make foam combat look fun. 
Curiosity - Going along with the first point, people are curious as to what LARP consists of. They hear about these events through word of mouth or the internet and they think "I could see myself getting into that". There is a generally mindset shift, as more and more people accept the idea of mythology, that is, as the concept becomes mainstream so will its various activities (Dungeons and Dragons, LARP).

It Is Simply FUN - Nothing scream cathartic like clubbing on someone with a foam baton. On a more serious note the living story, the preservation of dying trades like armor crafting and food preparation create another-worldly feeling and an escape from the stresses of daily life.

The film industry is largely responsible for bring LARP into the spotlight in recent years, and that's a great thing. These dedicated people and brilliant and passionate about their hobby, and they would have to survive this long. When you bring passionate people together with an event that's terrifically fun, can you honestly expect it not to spread like wildfire?

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