When the movie “Role Models” appeared in theaters, America was introduced to a genre known as Live Action Role Play or LARP as it’s commonly known. For a lot of people, LARP had been portrayed in a negative fashion, often referring to an old YouTube video of people tossing around balls of tin foil yelling, “Lightning bolt! Lightning Bolt!” Role Models showed, while appearing silly on the surface, that LARP is just a bunch of people just having fun together; there was a camaraderie and togetherness that society seems to be missing in our digital world today.
But the portrayal of LARP and its actual definition are two different things. One may automatically think it’s a fantasy-like world filled with foam swords and imaginary kingdoms, but LARP can and has manifested itself in something as simple as a team building exercise (remember, “Live Action Role Play”). It can be as simple as a skit to show a point or as complex as a team of people pretending to be on a spaceship a la Star Trek on a crucial mission. It’s deceptively ingrained in our society; Civil War reenactments, Paintball, and even training exercises fall in the category of LARP.
WyrdCon is a convention that has finished its fifth year and celebrates LARP as a genre of entertainment. It was held at the Westin Hotel LAX over the Memorial Day weekend. In fact, they refer to themselves as a “Storytelling Convention” adding that LARP is an interactive way of telling stories and that its participants are all part of telling this story.
While WyrdCon does have it’s share of foam sword fighting (which, by the way, is very physically exhausting), it only takes up part of the convention overall. The convention boasts a variety of classes and panels ranging from basic sewing for costume-making to Q&A with New York Times Bestselling authors about their works. In addition, WyrdCon held what they referred to as the “Arcade”, a series of 10 consecutive “puzzle rooms”, each having a strict time limit and increasing in difficulty as you got deeper into the game. One room had you (or your team) locked in a jail cell trying to get out while another room had you (or your team) find your way out of a very intricate box maze.
But WyrdCon isn’t like other conventions. It’s amazingly friendly and inclusive; no one judges you on your appearance, and there are a variety of things to choose from. Some LARPs last about an hour, some last for several hours. Some give you a simple 3×5 card of your character, giving you the freedom to role-play however you want while some have you constantly interacting with other players trying to figure out a mystery.
While this year’s WyrdCon was held on Memorial Day weekend, the people behind the convention have stated that next year’s WyrdCon will be held in the Fall at an Orange County venue. So if you are even curious of LARP, but don’t want to be committed to any one group, WyrdCon is for you. It allows you to sample the world of LARP and all it has to offer.
To me, it was a vacation of the mind. It allowed me to be an imaginative kid again, but in a controlled setting. After I left, it was as though my creative mind was in overdrive and I had fun getting there.
For more information visit wyrdcon.com.