Let’s explain: LARP-ing is a Live Action Role Play. It’s a full immersion into the created, fictitious character and living its life for a certain time. Most of the time, it is a full improvisation with no script, nor scenario. Everyone becomes a participant and the audience simultaneously. I will present you LARP-ing and ways you can benefit from it.

How did it start?

My first encounter with LARP took place around 2 years ago. I participated in one of the Eramus+ projects in Sweden during which we were supposed to LARP. How little I knew about what was going to happen! With a very open mind, I arrived at Hästekasen, a small permaculture village in Sweden with a group of other participants.

It was an immersion into the fantasy world based on the epic, high-fantasy novel, Lord of the Ring, and the Games of Thrones with elements of mythology, magic, and Vikings! There were 3 days of game and 3 days of workshops preparing our characters and ourselves for what might happen. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I decided to become a wood-elf for 3 days. I followed my dream to have pointy ears, and sleep in the treehouse which was to me like a childhood dream coming true. I wanted to learn how to shoot from the bow and learn to speak Quenya, the elfish language, too!

The most excellent thing about LARP is the fact that whatever you decide to do in the game, it will have its consequences. It reminded me of the choice you could make in the episode of the Black Mirror Bandersnatch. The plot will go on depending on the choice you make.

The first impressions

The game started on Wednesday at 22 glasses sharp. Glasses and drops like in a clepsydra were measures of time. Three of us, elves, were waiting for the kick-off, a moment when something crucial would happen. And it did. We had a visit from a druid, saying he had a vision that he saw the Nana white witch, being possessed by dark powers in the maze. Our mission was to rescue her. With other characters, we went to the maze in a dark forest. We were attacked by the possessed Nana, wearing black clothes, and black make-up, who was screaming like the devil. Suddenly, we were surrounded by orcs and wolves. It was a remarkably intense scene, the first one in my LARPing adventure. To me, it started with a big BANG!

How unpredictable it can get?

One night we didn’t expect much to happen. How mistaken we were. Suddenly, we heard the sounds of drums and screams from far away and we noticed the lights of fire. All of us, elves took our weapons and went quickly to the battlefield where the sounds were coming from. I (both me and Elf) couldn’t believe what I saw.

There was a big group of barbarians dancing around the bonfire in the middle of the battlefield. They played drums. They were naked or with some little parts of cloth on them. They jumped through the fire. They were smeared with blood. They were screaming.” Sacrifice! Meat! Bones”! We all stood there in shock.  They laughed out loud and terribly. After they had finished the show, they just left…

Going through unexpected, unpredictable, and imaginable experiences is all part of participation in LARP.

Is the immersion real?

From one day to another, I became an elf. I was thinking like an elf and acting as an elf. Suddenly, I knew everything about the use of magical objects, the Avatar of the Moon, the red stones, the moonstones, and the Arch Mage stuff. I performed different, lifesaving rituals using magic, sounds, and spells.

To sum up, the immersion is REAL. With no phones, with nature, other players, and the engagement of everyone we achieved something exceptional. I was living, thinking, and acting as Elf for three days. I experienced a completely different life. Some could say I was intoxicated with some hallucinogenic substances when writing about my experience. But I was not. I can totally recommend it to everyone.

How can you benefit from LARP-ing?

The European Union is supporting the LARP as a tool for personal development and growth. And after spending a week in Sweden I can agree to it 100%. As different characters, we can work on many of our soft skills and take out many great benefits.

1. Make new friends and contacts

One of the best ways to make new friends is to engage in a common activity with other people. The feeling of sharing incredible moments and crazy adventures can strengthen ties between you and new people. Nothing connects better than having a magical cider with your friends and celebrating together a victorious battle against the orcs earlier in the evening.

2. LARP-ing helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety

The social contact aspect LARP-ing can have a profound effect and great benefit on your overall psychological well-being. Nothing relieves stress better than exercise. During LARP you will probably run a lot in the forest, have imaginary fights, connect and interact with people and reduce your access to electronic devices. A social media detox is highly recommended by psychologists, as it is scientifically proven to enhance mental performance and make you feel happier.

3. LARP-ing makes you more empathetic.

It is the skill that enables us to relate to others and understand their perspective better. And what is a better way to do it than to put ourselves into someone else’s shoes? The social framework of the game seems to encourage an organised and sustained form of empathy in participants.

5. LARP-ing increases self-confidence.

You are performing in different settings that challenge you in many different ways. You are realizing that you are capable of acting and reacting under the pressure and in unpredictable situations. Your self-confidence will most probably boost. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.

8. Teaching you valuable job skills

Just because LARP-ing is gaming it does not mean that it is not transferable to other areas of your life. Before starting the game it is important to sit down and think of the skills you would like to work on and then try to implement them during the game. As a particular character in a game, you are only acting. However, the self-confidence that you’ll get, can remain with you also after the game. The skills you can practice are for instance:

  • leadership,
  • being assertive,
  • being proactive,
  • public speaking,
  • practice letting go of things.

If we’ve convinced you why LARP-ing is a great way for your progress and personal development, you can check our web page Abroadship.org  for opportunities.

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Have fun LARP-ing!