Like most LARPers (live action role players), I’ve met some amazing and inspiring people at LARPs and online via the LARP community, including people who live all over the world. LARP has allowed me to broaden my world view with the common ground of this exciting game style / art form / hobby / creation.
LARP Haven is a Facebook group accommodating international LARPers of all stripes. From newbies wondering how to get involved to professional LARP organizers, the group boasts over 5,4000 members at the writing of this post. Since its inception, leadership has changed, as have the nature of the permitted posts.
Here is an actual screen shot of LARP Haven right now:
The community has tackled issues ranging from serious to ridiculous, like:
- Is g**sy a slur?
- Is drow makeup blackface?
- Rules or no rules?
- LARP, LRP, larp, interactive theater… what do we call it?
- Is it true that American LARPers are all talentless stick jocks?
- Are Nordic LARPers just snooty people who like to cry for the experience?
- Should we believe marginalized people when they tell us they frequently encounter unfriendly and offensive behavior at LARPs or nah?
- I’m totally bitter about LARP, but I want to stay in this community and complain about it, you know?
- Why can’t it be like the good old days when elves were elves and no one was offended because Tolkien fantasy is the only way to go?
- How many troll posts can one community member make before the admins care?
- Why are people so super biased towards inclusive games? Can’t they just enjoy games and communities that don’t treat them like people?
- How many times can we complain about game ads and merchant postings even though these posts are made on the allotted days?
But in all seriousness, the tone was a little different this time. It moved a lot more towards the realm of requests or demands to be treated equally being seen as “highly political.” And while words like ‘toxic’ and ‘problematic’ were used on all sides of the issues, the theme of being such a radical upstart for simply wanting to be treated with respect was especially concerning.
So What Does This Mean For the LARP Community?
People are going to do what they’re going to do, but it’s extremely sad that something called a ‘haven’ is so misleading. The intention was right years ago when it was named, but now it’s a sad irony that confuses many new LARPers.
“If you’re so unhappy with this [comic] [community] [fandom], create your own.”
People say that a lot.
And now a lot of the people who are hearing that are taking that to heart. It’s been done on a large scale and the ripples it’s produced are amazing.
Like I said, these conflicts happen fairly often. When they do, respectable community leaders post more neutral, positive things to get less combative engagement, but ultimately, the hurtful behavior is not a fading trend in LARP Haven.
And I know – if you’re not included in these groups, you might wonder what goes on in there when LARP Haven becomes a total dumpster fire.
And I’ll tell you what happens in those groups.
We support each other.
Editorial note: This is a commentary and I think people should be treated with respect, so that makes me super biased towards respectful people and inclusive LARPs.