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(269) &&&-?

“Larp”—it means Live-Action Roleplay, the term, as deployed for about a decade, has been entirely pejorative. I get the impression that the term is on the way out as an insult, something new will come in to replace it; but, before it vanishes forever, as slang rapidly does, it’s worth consideration as to why it is an insult. “Larp” is basically in the same arena as “nerd”, “dweeb”, and so on—it’s related to men who make model aeroplanes beyond the age of twelve. It’s a hobby, but somehow it’s not a proper hobby—it’s a quasi-infantile activity, of the sort that modernity produces, such as paint-balling or roller-derby, that somehow doesn’t achieve the dignity of a real sport; it’s a world of neon colours and velcro, it lacks gravitas.

The typical participant is a “neckbeard”—overweight, with a beard studded with dandruff, particularly curly; he drinks IPA. The typical woman will have a lazy eye that points in an independent direction, be very keen on Harry Potter. It seems preposterous in a way paint-balling and roller-derby don’t manage to be because it can’t conform to expectations. It’s the idea that there’s a “re-creation” going on, of a world—not a historical reenactment, though—that can’t be bridged to reality. Take paint-balling on its own and it’s okay, but if you build a whole science-fiction identity around paint-balling it becomes twee—and the gap between reality and fantasy is, well, unbridgeable (that’s why it’s called “fantasy”). Larping has bathos—it’s because the gap between expectation and reality is a chasm (the Chasm of Moor-i’doon, perhaps—per the canon).

It’s sometimes said “we all larp”, in the sense we all have personas. I disagree: we all act, but to larp is not theatre—theatre occurs in a darkened space, a mystic space where reality and dream meet. Larpers, by contrast, do it in the day time (like kids on a break in the school playground? Yes—just like that, and kidults are unsavoury).


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