“You should go LARP-ing with us,” they said.
I was a freshman at college at the time. I had just started playing Pokémon, was stuck in an upper-level literature course, and was keeping my eyes open “social” events, groups, and clubs with which I could partake.
I did go LARP-ing once. At least with that group. It was easily the strangest experience of my life. I was told that I did well, and I felt like I did well, but something didn’t feel right about being there.
Why was that again? Oh, yeah. I’m a Christian.
So, why is it that I can second-guess going to a LARP event but not bat an eye when I finish a playthrough of Borderlands?
That’s right. I’m talking about RPG’s this month.
The topic of Christians and RPG’s came to my attention when I crossed paths with the Christian/anti-RPG propaganda film, Dark Dungeons, based on the Chick Tracks comic of the same name. And having grown up in a family that wouldn’t let me play video games or RPG’s I can see some of the misconceptions that people have about the RPG communities.
There’s quite a bit to talk about, so I’ll do it in three parts, each unpacking a misconception that Christians seem to have towards RPG’s.
First, what is an RPG? Well, RPG is shorthand for Role-Playing Game (making it a noun, and not a verb). As the name suggests, the player gets to take on the role of a fictional character. While most games have a linear progression, RPG’s tend to be a little more open with how the player plays.
I want to define this term because of…
Misconception #1: All RPG’s are Dungeons & Dragons
RPG’s are broken into so many genres and subgenres that it gets hard to track. The main two camps are VRPG’s (Video Role Playing Games) and “real” RPG’s. VRPG’s are quite popular both among gamers and among non-gamers, and some of the best-selling and best-reviewed video games are RPG’s. Most of them are harmless. The worst cases are related to World of Warcraft, where people have quit jobs to play the game. However, I believe few people play WoW anymore, and the same has happened for non-RPG ‘s, like League of Legends.
The next categories are the “real” ones. These are typically broken up into two camps: table-tops and Live-Action Role-Play. LARP is often seen as the final form of role playing games, but I see it as kids running around in the woods pretending to be elves.
Table-tops are where D&D finally lands. And likewise, these are typically the ones that catch the most flack when anyone argues against RPG’s. LARP does too, but they operate so underground that few people see them.
What makes the “real” ones an easy target is because they’re “real.” You have players sitting around casting “spells,” rolling dice, consulting worn-out texts, and wearing hoodies. And that’s just for the table-tops. LARP takes it up a notch by trading the dice for foam swords and the hoodies for elaborate costumes.
Many of you, I assume, look at the descriptions of these actions and think, “That’s terrible! Why are kids doing this?”
Well…my first time LARP-ing wasn’t my first time LARP-ing, technically. I used to run around my lawn with a foam lightsaber pretending to be a Jedi with my sister and my friends. And let’s not forget one of the old playground games of “Cops and Robbers.” The only difference I see between what I did as a child and LARP-ing was the rules and means that went into it.
And I don’t know of too many kids doing this exactly. I didn’t discover LARP until I was eighteen, after only playing VRPG’s for a year or two. The kids that do play these games either take the VRPG route or do the simplified playing in the woods. I’ll talk more about kids and these games in a later post.
Well, that should be enough for one week. Next week, I’ll be talking about Misconceptions #2 and #3.