If you know me at all, you know that I have a weird obsession with the actress Felicia Day. My celebrity crush, my spirit animal, my queen. Most people, however, have never heard the explanation.
About three years ago now, I was sitting alone in my room binge watching Supernatural. They had introduced this character a season or two before the one I was up to called Charlie (three guesses who played her), and I was in love.
A geeky lesbian hacker. Ugh, she was everything I wanted to be, everything I wanted to be with. And I guess I wasn’t the only admirer, as the writers brought her back.
Let me tell you about that episode. It has to be my favourite, and most influential thing I have seen on television. I can’t remember what brought our heroes Sam and Dean to Charlie again, but they found her at a LARP event.
I remember them entering this camp, the camera panning over dozens of medieval looking tents and people in full armour with weapons. Charlie appears, wearing a crown and claiming to be the queen. Dean had this look on his face, a curious happiness. I think I replicated that exactly.
The boys did their research, and found out that this strange spot Charlie took part in was called LARPing. I hit the pause button, and pounced on my laptop. I think that was the day I broke the keyboard, typing into the google search bar far too excitedly.
I watched several videos on the subject, some of which I will link at the end of this post, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. Even the ‘lightning bolt’ video couldn’t dissuade me.
Googling ‘LARP New Zealand’ I found an event was actually coming up shortly, just a town over. I got the contact details of the man running it, Jared, and sent him an email ‘hey, I like the idea of LARP, are you OK with a queer teenager joining in’. The response I got was the kindest welcoming I’ve received into a community, and Jared is now referred to as my ‘LARP dad’ because of his care for me.
Leading up to the event, I couldn’t keep still, anticipating what was to come. I watched every video ever posted about LARP, the good, the bad, and the scripted. I think I’d watched ‘LARPs: The Series’ multiple times by the day of the event.
This event, I must warn you, was not a typical LARP campaign you see in most media. It was a convention of small games called theater LARPs. Each run about three hours, have pre-written characters and a more focused plot. These types of games are common in New Zealand, and us Kiwis have about five conventions a year all over the country, each named after a mythological creature. This one was called Medusa.
I showed up three hours early (yes, I’m that kind of person) to ‘help’ set-up and to meet the community. It must be noted that at this time, I was so scared of people and communication that my parents had to drag me to a social anxiety group. I couldn’t even go to school. And so, despite being there to meet everyone, I stayed hidden in the corner.
The first game went… Poorly. This wasn’t the fault of my GMs (Game Masters), but because of my inability to talk to anyone. And this was a very social game, which involved making deals and gambling. Oh boy, when it was over I hid and thought ‘maybe this wasn’t right for me’.
As I had this thought, a girl came over and sat next to me as we got ready for bed. She started talking to me, and I’d never met anyone like her. She was open minded, kind and passionate. We had the same interests and ideals, and in that small time we talked to each other, I learned a lot.
The next day, I had the best day of my life. I was given a group to begin my LARP with, and they were all keen to get to know each other from the start. Quicker than I ever had, I made friends. Most of them I now consider best friends.
The stories I could tell from that day alone are some of my favourites, and I particularly like telling them around people that have no idea that LARP is just an act. You wouldn’t believe the shocked look on people’s faces when they overhear ‘so it turns out our bus driver was actually the leader of a drug cartel and stole the Mona Lisa through his shoe!’
Three years later, here I am. I run one of the bigger LARP games in New Zealand. And to think I started out without the confidence to speak.
So I have one thing to say. And that is, thank you, Felicia Day. Charlie introduced me to LARP, the series on your channel Geek and Sundry strengthened my love of it, and your confidence in being both yourself and an avid geek has made me confident in my passion.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting several of my stories, as well as general LARP content.
Click here to be directed to Mo Mo O’Brein’s LARP basics video.
Click here to be directed to LARPs: The Series.
And finally, here to learn about the LARP that I attended (there’s one coming up this year!)