Knights of Badassdom: Why We Deserve Better LARP Movies

hr_Knights_of_Badassdom_1Warning: The following article involves spoilers for Knights of Badassdom.

The minute I heard about Knights of Badassdom, I was excited. Forget for a moment that this was going to be a movie about LARP. This movie had Peter Dinklege in it, in armor, fighting at a LARP! It had Ryan Kwanden of True Blood fame, one of the only reasons I still WATCH that show, as our hero. And Summer Glau, fresh off of being badass in fandoms everywhere, was going to play the female lead. Plus there was going to be LARP! (Okay, now we’re back to that point) This was going to be a movie that not only spoke to my interests but had a great cast! How could things go wrong?

Easily. Oh so very easily.

It’s no secret that Knights of Badassdom, directed by Joe Lynch, went through production hell. The film was shot and then disappeared for a long while. The creator lost control of it to someone else, a producer who supposedly recut the entire thing before it was finally released into the wild through limited engagement showings across the country. The movie cashed in on a new system of ‘sponsored’ movie screenings, hosted locally in communities to drum up attendance. KoB was marketed to LARP communities to come out and support, to make showings available so that this movie could come to their area with it’s awesomeness. I was one of those people who applied to host a showing. As someone who loves seeing LARPers come together at events, I thought this would be a perfect community event – we’d all get together and watch some big stars pretend to do what we do! But before I would do it, I went to see an earlier screening, just to see what I was getting.

I’m so very glad I did. The moment the movie was over, I walked out and emailed Tugg, the service that was hosting the events. I told my liaison at Tugg that, “Frankly, I attended this film this week just to see what I would be hosting, and it is so bad that I don’t think I want my name associated. Kindly cancel my application.”

Knights of Badassdom is everything that bothers me about LARP films.

The Review

UnknownLet’s not start with talking about Knights of Badassdom as a LARP film. Instead, how does it rank as a film? Well, in the land of comedies, it ranks just above Sharkanedo in making sense plot-wise. There is no coherence in the flow of the movie after the characters GET to the LARP, when it devolves into a messy pastiche of horror film tropes banged together to create some kind of narrative. Once you’re halfway into the movie, you wonder why the director bothered to get such impressive actors as Dinklage, Jimmi Simpson and Kevin Zahn when they’re going to underuse them or, in Dinklage’s case, murder them off before they can do anything cool. The dialogue is some of the worst I’d ever heard in a movie, and as the film went on, more jokes fell flat than actually landed. By the time the movie went into ‘save the day’ mode, I was scratching my head at he mess of silly horror movie references tossed in, the ridiculously out of place hill-billy cops plot line that was jammed onto the rest of the film, and the plan the heroes supposedly put together to rescue the game from the horrible demon.

And once you get to the ending and the climactic showdown, I was so busy shaking my head at the lack of cohesion of ideas and the obvious plot holes that I’d forgotten I was watching a movie set at a LARP. It seemed more like a badly staged theater production entitled “How Not To Save The Day By Make Ryan Kwanten Pretend To Sing Fake Metal At A Bad CG Demon.” By the time the credits rolled, I was looking for as many synonyms for ‘disappointing’ as I could come up with.

Not Just Disappointing…

I sat after the film and thought about what I’d heard about the film. About how it had been hacked up in editing by the producer that got their hands on the film. Surely that was what made this film so bad? Anyone watching could have seen however that the movie would probably have sucked no matter the editing (there is only so much editing can do to awful dialogue). Still, I realized something about this movie was making me aggravated, and it wasn’t just being poorly done.

And that’s when I finally got it- expectation. This movie had not been what I expected. The movie in its treatment of the characters was saying something about LARP that wasn’t what was advertised. This wasn’t a movie about a LARP where horrible supernatural things happened. This was a movie about a normal guy getting shanghaied to a land of weird folks who bring down something terrible on themselves and pay the price. In this case, they get killed for the transgression of being LARPers.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Horror movie villains from the big budget murder spree films always have underlying themes they feed into in society. The movie Scream went through them in great detail: don’t drink, don’t have sex, don’t do drugs, don’t go off on your own and be different. Those things will get you killed in a horror movie faster than you can say ‘I’ll be right back.’ And why? Because they reenforce the stereotypes of society. Teens having sex is bad, and bad things happen to kids who go off and get high and drink and wander outside of the safe zones. That’s Horror Movie 101, the basics of the social messages behind all those massacres in the Freddy or Jason movies. Horror movies are all about the dangers of the unknown, and how it’s safer to be normal.

All of those tropes exist within Knights of Badassdom. Except they slapped the label on that ‘it’s just a joke’ that comedy gets away with as an excuse. The fact is, real comedy also uses its power to reflect a message back at the audience. Even Sharkanedo was saying ‘guys, your fear of sharks is so ridiculous because YOU ARE ON LAND MOST OF THE TIME SO CHILL.’ It makes a person look at their own assumptions and fears and laugh because they see a reflection of the absurd in themselves. Real comedy, like horror, tells you a lot about the community and people it’s talking to with the movie.

Who Is The Audience Of This Film?

So who is Knights of Badassdom talking to? It promised to be a movie for LARPers in it’s promotion. But after watching it, my conclusion is that it really isn’t. This movie wasn’t for LARPers, the way that Big Bang Theory isn’t for nerds. Knights of Badassdom is written for folks on the outside of a community looking in to point their finger and laugh.

They made a serious Lightning Bolt reference. Seriously, guys? Really?
They made a serious Lightning Bolt reference. Seriously, guys? Really?

You can tell who the audience is aimed at by looking at how the movie is set up. KoB is full of same tired tropes about LARPers trotted out to represent LARP as a strange hobby full of maladjusted people. The main character is the Everyday Joe (that’s literally his name, Joe), an under-employed metal musician with girlfriend problems, who regards what his friends do as weird and usual. He only attends the LARP because he is kidnapped by his roommates, who represent the stereotypes of LARPers: the rich kid with too much time on his hands and a need to escape reality, and the druggy who is otherwise kind of cool but way into the nerdy stuff. (The second being Peter Dinklege’s character, who might have had a chance to shine if he hadn’t been wasted on bad writing). Then let’s not forget about the game master, the horribly overdramatic and snotty guy who abuses his power and treats everyone like something you scrape off your shoe. That is, when he’s not hitting on the hottest girl there to ‘be his assistant storyteller.’

"I don't even want to be here!"
“I don’t even want to be here!”

Ah yes, Summer Glau’s character, Gwen. Gwen is beautiful, sweet, and a good fighter, a character we should be able to root for. When described by other characters, who get descriptions like ‘wily’ and ‘great fighter’, she is described as possessing a “+3 ass of awesome” or some such nonsense. She’s presented as the beautiful object of everyone’s attention (cue the closeup on her fishnet covered legs), including the game organizer, who skeeves on her in her very first scene. But fear not! She’s protected by her hulking cousin, who never breaks character – even in real life! Gwen is designated as her cousin’s babysitter at the LARP because he’s a danger to others due to his inability to separate fantasy from reality (ahem, LARPer trope ahoy!) Ah, now it all becomes clear! The beautiful female lead doesn’t even really want to be there, but she’s got to be there for family. Because why would a beautiful girl want to come to a LARP without an excuse? Heaven forbid she should actually want to participate in the game herself. In the LARP community I came up in, there was a derogatory term for girls who were brought by relatives/significant others who didn’t want to be there but just ‘played along’: a backpack. The movie backpacked Summer Glau and did it without so much as a cringe at their gender stereotyping.

"We kidnapped our friend to a game - yay!"
“We kidnapped our friend to a game – yay!”

But why should it cringe? Because that’s all this movie is – a load of stereotypes dumped on top of some not very funny jokes. LARPers watching might look at the absurdity of the over-the-top performance and say ‘Look, they’re making jokes with us about the silliness of parts of our community.’ But if that was the case, the framing of the film is all wrong. The movie isn’t about a LARPer poking fun at his own community – it’s about a man on the outside coming in, judging everything he sees as absurd, and then saving the day before wandering off to go be cool again away from all the weirdoes.

It was that ending that got me, the epilogue, that convinced me that the film wasn’t really for LARPers at all. The ‘this is what happened to the characters post-massacre’ that is the tried and true show of an amateur filmmaker who doesn’t know how to end their film. Ryan Kwanten’s character Joe and his new main squeeze Gwen ride off into the sunset together to form a metal band. And they never LARP again. Why would they? After all, they survived the night of terror in a place they never wanted to go to in the first place! They were the ‘normal ones’ who would go off to jam on guitars and be cool and happy together. And all those LARPers and hillbillies died in that field, weird and odd and killed off by a demon, paid for the transgression of being different, while the cool lead characters survive because, well, they just weren’t into the weirdness to begin with.

We Need Better LARP Movies

"I signed on to be drugged out and then dead. What is this crap?"
“I signed on to be drugged out and then dead. What is this crap?”

It’s then that I realized why this movie not only was awful, but it was insidious in its offering. It wasn’t presenting the movie as a collection of in-jokes told from a place of fun. It was holding up a mirror as comedy often does and saying, through Ryan Kwanten’s Normal Everyday Joe, “See what your weirdness brings? You and those hillbillies who died are just the same – backwards and weird and disconnected from reality.” He as much as says so in dialogue when they discover Peter Dinklage’s body. At the screening I attended, there was a notable hiss from the audience when Ryan Kwanten’s character goes off on a mini-tirade about how the murders must have been committed by someone who had taken LARP authenticity too far and used a real weapon in game. Because, of course, that is what LARPers are from the outside- people too wrapped up in their fantasy NOT to commit actual homicide. This is an idea carried in the earnest horror film The Wild Hunt too and perpetuates the same tropes – LARPers are escapists with a potentially unhinged connection to reality – that has dogged every media representation of LARP from big screen to small.

It’s that perception of LARP that has been a self-perpetuating cycle for years. The more LARP has been presented to those who don’t participate as an odd and weird hobby, the more the stereotype is called up again for movies like these. That then perpetuates the stereotypes further and the cycle goes on. Where Knights of Badassdom had a chance to break that trend, it doesn’t break so much as take that trend underground in a sly, backhanded, unsaid way. And for that, it seems like just ‘good ol’ fun.’

After seeing the movie, I pulled my support from the showing I was going to host for a number of reasons. One, I just didn’t want to have to sit through that mess one more time, nor was I going to work to bring a piece of bad filmmaking to other folks who would pay their money to see it. More than that however, I have this dream that there might be movies that represent LARPing in a positive light and not in that snide, backhanded, finger-pointing kind of way. Maybe that’s asking for a lot from Hollywood, a place that survives off the stereotyping shortcuts that populate many scripts. But it’s my choice not to support something that I feel represents a hobby I love poorly, especially a hobby that is much maligned already.

I won’t embrace a movie just because it shows SOME representation of LARP, even if it’s bad. I won’t forgive badly done movies about the hobby just because hey look, that looks like something I love on screen! I won’t default support a movie for having LARP in it if it just feeds the stereotype machine. Because folks, we in the LARP community deserve a better class of representation. And this movie just doesn’t do it.

11 Comments

  1. Awesome review.
    Some more details that may or may not be relevant:

    Tugg is a company that aggregates (arrogates?) four-walling, a practice that has been going on for decades. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_wall_distribution

    The larp consultants on KoB, Rick McCoy and Adrianne Grady, were the same duo who consulted on the other larp movie Role Models. They (and now I) get frequent calls from Hollywood to consult with them about larp, this “mysterious, unknown fanatical subculture of freaks.”

    Unfortunately, I tell Hollywood the truth, so either the show I’m associated with doesn’t get picked up, or the producers stop calling me. The latest drop was an episode of Storage Wars, who wanted me to get them 20+ larpers in full garb plus a location during a weekday (or, maybe, if they had to, Saturday). All that at no pay, in about a week and a half.

    Upcoming webseries LARPs could be good: http://www.larping.org/larps-the-series-pilot/

    Treasure Trapped documentary WILL be good (doc filmmakers toured European larps for three years, visiting Monitor Celestra and Østerskov Efterskole, the Danish all-larp school): https://vimeo.com/66192774

    Lastly, I am going to ascribe partial blame to American larpers for Hollywood’s depiction of live action role playing. This is not a popular idea, I know, but consider:

    How many larpers refuse to admit to friends, family, co-workers what they do?

    How many larpers consider larp a hobby? A hobby they spend thousands of dollars and hours on over many years.

    How many larps are made in the nerd genre, particularly fantasy?

    How many larps are escapist in nature, as opposed to educational, enlightening, society-exploring, social hacking or culture jamming?

    I would say very, very few, especially in America. The frequent argument in art, and this includes cinema, is “Does cinema create a culture or merely reflect it?” (I think it can do both, but that’s another essay for another time.)

    In the case of KoB, I think they were just reflecting what they saw from scratching the surface of larp. I’ll blame them for making a steaming pile of digitally-streamed doo-doo, but I won’t blame them for failing to see that there is anything else to larp besides forests, foam core weapons, and fake elf ears–that’s about all that American larpers project.

    1. Aaron – I take serious, serious exception to the characterization of American larp:

      1) A lot of people don’t talk about their hobbies, especially if other people have trouble understanding them. In America, this tends to mean anything outside of mainstream sports and popular entertainment. A lot of larpers don’t talk about what they do, but neither do model train collectors, avid scrapbookers, Magic the Gathering enthusiasts and so on. While I see your point about a missed chance to educate people, at the same time, not everyone wants or needs to be an ambassador for their hobby either.

      2) I’d say most of them. I’m not sure what the point is here.

      3) I’m not exactly sure what the “nerd genre” is, but going by context I’m going to say that you mean larps that fall into the realms of science fiction, fantasy, or horror. To which my response is … why should we change what we enjoy for the sake of other peoples’ perceptions? I’m all for including more genres and settings, but labeling them “nerd genres” and implying they’re somehow lesser examples of the hobby as a result is just nonsense.

      4a) Fair point, but I’m going to throw a question back at you: What do you suppose the numbers look like in terms of Euro larpers who play in large, fantasy-style games as compared to non-escapist games? I mean, if you put “Euro larp” into a search engine, you primarily get pictures from some of the huge 1K+ player games and festivals (all fantasy shots too). Does that mean it’s an accurate projection of Euro larp? Or simply the largest and most visible segment of the larp population pretty much everywhere?

      4b) What about an “escapist” game precludes it from also getting across any of the other qualities you deem important? I know a friend whose day job is running larp scenarios for large corporations for employee training purposes, and they often mix in elements of fantasy or science fiction because doing so helps people learn better. (If it’s a “zombie apocalypse” scenario then the lessons about teamwork and resource management are a lot more entertaining and easy to remember.) Again, I’m all for more purposes, but putting down “escapist” games misses the point that they can have tremendous story value.

      There are incredible strides being made in larp, and I am in no way discounting the great work that a lot of Euro larp designers in pushing the boundaries of what larp really means. Thanks to folks like Shoshana and Lizzie Stark and Emily Boss, we’re starting to catch up a bit over here in the States, and that’s awesome. I’m glad to see the medium continuing to evolve, and I think that the new games and ideas coming down the line are bringing some exciting elements to the form.

      But blaming American larpers for the lousy depictions they receive in the media? I think that’s really poor taste.

      1. Peter,

        Thanks for your response. I think you misunderstand me, which is a frequent problem I have with larpers. I suppose I should leave more qualifiers.

        Anyway, to your numbered points:

        1) If there’s a survey on avid scrapbookers, model train enthusiasts, and MTG players, I’d love to see it. Especially if it asks if they talk about their hobby, and you have evidence that they don’t talk either. In the case of MTG, they have a professional tour: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro_Tour_(Magic:_The_Gathering)
        and it has been covered by ESPN: http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2013/08/01/espns-coverage-of-magic-the-gathering-world-championship-in-2000/

        The difference in your examples is that they are usually played in private homes, not in public places, like larps (obviously, those other hobbies can be in public and larps can be in private).

        Anyway, I don’t disagree with you that other hobbyists don’t talk about their hobbies. That’s sad. They should. Come out of the closet, hobbyists!

        “not everyone wants or needs to be an ambassador for their hobby either”
        I’m not asking everyone to be ambassadors. What I am saying is that if there aren’t any ambassadors to the mainstream, the mainstream will look at larp as a foreign body. I contend that the MSM won’t approach us, so someone needs to go to them. Fortunately, a few people are. But we need more.

        2) Right, most larpers consider larp to be a hobby. I think hobbies are defined as “A hobby is a regular activity done for pleasure – typically during leisure – e.g., collecting themed items and objects, engaging in creative and artistic pursuits, playing sports. Continual participation in a hobby can provide substantial skill and knowledge about it.”
        (wikipedia, close enough)

        My point was that if the majority of larpers aren’t taking larp seriously, why should the MSM take larp seriously?

        3) Nerd genre larps – I’m not asking anyone to change their larps. Please, don’t do that. Keep doing what you’re doing. My point in asking this question was the consequence of this: MSM only sees the nerd genre larps because the MSM is slow and shallow and looks for the easiest example. Thus, unless other examples are mentioned to them (Vampire the Masquerade, Dystopia Rising, Monitor Celestra, or the other larps that aren’t mentioned nearly enough as larps, Model UN, mock trials, military simulations, Stanford Prison Experiment, Atzor, “If” Day, etc.), MSM will get a one-sided view.

        Larp is going through the same tribulations as comic books in the 50’s; discounted as juvenile, un-redeeming, worthless. Of course they weren’t, and of course neither are larps (both can be quite the opposite). But without examples of “higher art” or the art and benefits of larp (of any kind, nerd genres included), MSM will look down on it.

        Personally, I think it’s because MSM is afraid of live action role playing. We’re making our own entertainment free from corporate control, and that scares the hegemony. We’re creating our own worlds, our own fulfillment, our own tragedies, dreams, even societies. For those in power (MSM), that’s a threat because we’re not passively consuming their pabulum. But that’s just a theory.

        4a) Yes, most larps around the world are escapist fantasy genre. I know that. When asked (by MSM companies that consult with me about larp), I usually ballpark numbers as 60-65% fantasy boffer campaigns, 30% vampire/world of darkness, 5-10% “other”.
        Full disclosure: I’m working on a larp census to get real numbers on these kinds of questions, I am tired of estimating based on anecdotes.

        I also say this same line: “Fantasy boffer campaigns are to larp as super heroes are to comic books: the most popular, the most colorful, the most recognizable. But there are comic books that aren’t superheroes, and there are larps that aren’t fantasy campaigns.”

        That, to me, is non-judgemental. It just is. More people watch football than baseball, but that doesn’t mean football is better or worse than baseball. Same applies to fantasy larps and non-fantasy larps. No one is inherently better than the other (objectively no, subjectively, yes, because everyone has their personal preferences).

        4b) Escapist larps. I am not saying escapist larps can’t be fulfilling. They absolutely can be. What I am saying is when it seems to MSM that ALL larps are “merely” escapist, I believe MSM will conclude negatively about larps.

        “There are incredible strides being made in larp, and I am in no way discounting the great work that a lot of Euro larp designers in pushing the boundaries of what larp really means. Thanks to folks like Shoshana and Lizzie Stark and Emily Boss, we’re starting to catch up a bit over here in the States, and that’s awesome. I’m glad to see the medium continuing to evolve, and I think that the new games and ideas coming down the line are bringing some exciting elements to the form.”

        Me too! I love the work that Shoshana, Lizzie Stark, Emily Boss, Sarah Bowman, Evan Torner, Epidiah Ravachol, John Stavoropolous, Jason Morningstar, J Li, and so many other Americans (all friends of mine, so yes, I am biased) are doing, not to mention all the Euros and Nordics. I’m also glad to see you refer to larp as a “medium” and not a hobby. 😉

        What you just said there is what needs to be said again, louder, until the MSM gets it.

        That’s what I am arguing for.

        “But blaming American larpers for the lousy depictions they receive in the media? I think that’s really poor taste.”

        That’s your prerogative. I know what I said is controversial. It’s supposed to be. I also said “partially” in my original post, not wholly. I believe that until larpers in America have a larger self awareness and respect for the awesome thing they’re doing, and realizing that larp can be powerful and profound, inspiring and enlightening, we’re instead going to continue shunning the spotlight of MSM, and thus be shunned by the MSM. If we’re not proud of what we do, I can’t see why MSM would give us respect.

        Do I want all larpers to be missionaries to non-larpers? No. But do I want more of them? Yes.

        Thanks for reading, I hope this helps. I have to get back to making educational larps for the classroom: http://seekersunlimited.com/seekers-is-working-with-gamedesk-again/

  2. Great review. I agree on a lot of these points–particularly the fact that we need a better representation. This is actually the reason I’ve been producing my web series, Basic Adventuring 101…although I imagine it’s going to be hard to make everyone happy, regardless.

    Anyway, thanks again for a wonderful and thorough review.

  3. Great review and argument, Shoshana.
    And great comment that also nails a big elephant in the room, Aaron.
    > How many larps are made in the nerd genre, particularly fantasy?
    > How many larps are escapist in nature, as opposed to educational, enlightening, society-exploring, social hacking or culture jamming?

    I am more for the tabletop region of the roleplaying spectrum, and “we” have the same problem.
    A mainstream culture that basically embodies all the bad stereotypes the “normal” people has learned to loath, with only a niche movement that offers something _educational, enlightening, society-exploring, social hacking or culture jamming_… which is in turn often ostracized as weirdoes or not-true-roleplayers by the mainstream branch of the hobby.

    There is a desperate need of documents (movies, webseries, comics, whatnot) that can depict the good parts of this kind of games… maybe even laughing WITH it instead that AT it… maybe even portraying something other that the same old boffer LARP or D&D table.

  4. Aaron –

    Thanks for the thoughtful, balanced reply. Just for the record, I’m not only a larper but also a larp writer and designer, so I can see some of the different levels of the discussion better than most. I appreciate the long view you’re taking of the situation, and I understand a lot of what you’re saying. I agree with quite a bit of it. So rather than do bullet point back and forth, I’m just going to make a few general statements in reply:

    I agree that the perception of the mainstream media regarding larp should change, but I think we’re going to disagree on how best to do that. I agree that showing other types of larps than just big fantasy games is a great angle, but I think it’s a disservice to dismiss the value of it as a hobby as opposed to a more serious endeavor. I think it would be better to view it like film – there are all kinds of “successful” films, from arthouse fare to action classics, and that we should promote the best in all genres rather than focus on a few. The high tide lifts all boats, as they say.

    To be honest, I’m extremely skeptical of the theory that mainstream media is “afraid” of us in any way. Quite frankly, I think that’s vastly overestimating our own importance, at least as a market force. “Fear” in a corporate sense doesn’t kick in until we’re a significant enough draw that we affect things like ticket sales or launch numbers; right now, we simply don’t rate as a concern. I highly doubt any studio or publishing executives have logged any meeting time worrying about larping as a threat to their market share, much less as an outside of the box form of entertainment. Until something happens like a major larp event conflicting with a film’s release date and proving to be a significant factor, they simply won’t care about us, at least not as competition. I’d love to make them sweat! But we’re a long, long way from even showing up on their radar in that capacity, I think.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I love this medium. I’ve spent 20 years in it as a player and 17 as a professional, and during my time with White Wolf I wrote, co-wrote or developed books that were translated into several languages and used as the rules for tens of thousands of players around the world. It’s been an incredible journey and I’ve loved the entire way. I know the transformative power of larp on a personal and social level; most of my friends are larpers, and many of them forged marriages and lasting friendships from larps. And I am blown away to see this next wave coming, and all the innovations coming with it.

    At the same time, I like the fire a lot. It’s important to remember that we can always try to raise the bar, and always seek to push the limits of what we think is possible in this art form. So thank you for reminding me, and for pushing people in general.

    It’s been a pleasure, and I’d love to debate theory some more. I host a regular series over on my blog, if you ever feel like checking it out – I’d welcome your input: http://peterwoodworth.com/tag/badass-larp-talk/

    1. Peter

      “I think it would be better to view it like film – there are all kinds of “successful” films, from arthouse fare to action classics, and that we should promote the best in all genres rather than focus on a few. The high tide lifts all boats, as they say.”

      I view larps as an art form, which helps me to understand it. I usually use cinema or music analogies. Cinema because that’s familiar to me (the Biz), music because I like it.

      What I would tweak in your reply is just to get the mainstream media to look at it like film. So when I am tapped to consult by media companies, I always use movie analogies: Designer is like writer, GM is like assistant director or Director, NPCs are like cameos, campaigns are long running series, one shots are movies. So if we could get larpers to think of larp like those other art forms, that’s a huge step.

      Second, then, we have to get MSM to look at it that way. That’s what I always tell them, but I’m just one person. I need other people to also talk about larp in artistic terms, at least to others, to help them understand that it’s not all escapist hobbyists. I am advocating for mentioning the mainstream larps (fantasy boffer) as well as (in the same breath?) any other type.

      When I consulted on Kevin Avery’s Obsessed, I got a “hit” with his producer when I mentioned a western larp my then girlfriend, now wife and I ran in ’99. She perked up. But I had to go through a series of other things past fantasy larps to get her attention. That’s what I am talking about, for others to do. Do not ignore the fantasy campaigns (how can we?!), but paying a little favor to the minority larps might go a long way towards MSM understanding.

      “To be honest, I’m extremely skeptical of the theory that mainstream media is “afraid” of us in any way.”
      Good point, but I do know larp hit the mainstream in Denmark when a study showed they were spending the equivalent of $1M a year on larps: gear, props, meals, etc. I think we just need to show that we ARE a market force, either in population or dollars.

      For that express purpose of getting those numbers, I am working on a Larp Census: http://larpcensus.org/

      We could really use some more help evaluating some of our questions (testing). Feel free to go here and fill out the survey, and tell others. Takes about ten minutes. We especially want more people from other countries.
      https://docs.google.com/forms/d/108wS1kVAatynAlJP-6tiTHjQiElrgkEh-898f7927kk/viewform

      Anyway, although I have been larping for close to 30 years, I’ve only been doing it professionally for maybe the last four. It wasn’t until 2006, at the disastrous LARPY awards that it hit me how widespread larp was.

      I’ve seen your blog and scanned it, but have so little time now (pro larp design is a lot of work for too-little pay), I can barely do more than scan it. I am over here because Shoshana rocks! 😉

      Peter, if you are coming to Intercon (outside Boston) or the Living Games Conference (Shoshana invited me to be a keynote speaker) or are on the west coast, let me know.

      Keep up the great work!

  5. I will say that this movie was a slap to the face of LARPers in general. Joe Lynch hyped it at comic con and practically told us it was a love letter to the community. It really got people interested in it. People said finally, a fun movie that could help us out. Having just seen the movie by buying it digitally, I’ll say one thing:

    It fails us in every regard. It should not be supported.

    It mocks us, but not in the good nature way that Role Models does, where Auggie is a kid we all can relate to and his Big (Paul Rudd) at first mocks what he does, but then comes to understand that Auggie is genuinely a great kid and even what he does is fun in a way he can’t understand…but he respects him at the end.

    ************************SPOILER ALERT**************************************

    I think the ending was what was the biggest smack in the face. It leaves the guy who “Never gets out of character” back in the same world he was in. Technically, he should be in a mental institution.

    The two “Heroes” end up quitting LARP and becoming a part of the “More acceptable” hobby of being in a Metal Band

    The Game Master who’s a dick throughout the film, actually saves the day and gets labeled “Game Master Extraordinaire” and then go back to the crack about him masturbating to his Monster Manual….to take away from the fact that he was a hero.

    Peter Dinklage who’s supposedly a millionaire owns a castle home which we see the “heroes” rocking out in.

    The Sorcerer, goes back to his sad life as a LARPer but he’s now 27th level.

    This was not a movie to celebrate us. It was a movie to mock us.

    Recently Joe Lynch put up a website explaining issues with the movie, but if that was his ending all along? We need to stop publicizing LARPs because we’re never going to get a fair shake.

  6. The demon is actually a practical effect, as are most of the killing things, except for when President Sibert is killed. The only CGI in the movie are the awful greenscreen shit and the succubus turning switching her face every now and again.

    Also, succubi don’t work like they do in the movie, and just blaring doom metal into a magic gem doesn’t work. Everything I know about magic tells me that incantations are VERY specific. So unless the lyrics are the exact same words as in the spell, except for the whole Enochian/English thing, the spell would’ve fizzled out. The ONLY reason the succubus left was because she hated the music so much she decided that Earth was not a good realm to terrorize.

  7. i don’t larp but i’m a dnd player that is surrounded by hardcore larpers all the time and they all LOVED this movie in all its ridiculousness and stupidity and brilliance and the “LIGHTNING BOLT” guy is at one of the larps they go to and he loved being referenced. it was entertaining and fucking hilarious. great movie. sorry for not being a pretentious douche that needs to defend people playing make believe in the woods

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