Thoughts about LARP and Airsoft

Please feel free to comment and discuss!

THE VISION
To create an immersive LARP for all participants in the setting of a large modern-era military conflict (post-World War 2 in this definition)

THE WHY
Modern-era military conflicts (MEMC) offer endless opportunities to explore themes like: Why do democracies go to war? Which individuals partake in MEMC and why? Is killing for human rights or any other value justifyable and ethical? How far will the forces involved go? What meaning have fundamental rights like the Geneva Convention or the Human Rights Declaration in the face of death or victory? How does an usually peaceful international community work together to achieve a military goal? What role do civilians play and how are they protected?

photo by http://www.borderwar.cz/sites/

THE PROBLEMS

Most Larpers have concerns about Airsoft and those should be adressed; the list is of course not complete…

  1. The weapon looks real and I don`t want to get trouble with the police
  2. The Airsoft Community is immature, I don`t want to be seen with those people
  3. I have to wear those goggles all the time, they interfere with my immersion

Most Airsofters on the other hand have concerns about going “LARP” during an airsoftgame. Reasons?

a. I want a fun afternoon/weekend in the woods with my teammates, not exploring depths of human behaviour

b. Airsoft is a physically demanding activity, I can`t run around all day AND play a character

c. What do I do, when I die?

THE ANSWERS

  1. Yes the weapons look real. Running around in public with Airsoft weapons is dangerous and the police WILL interfere. Therefore, Airsoft-LARPS have to be in secluded areas with no visitors, and the police and local authorities must be informed beforehand!
  2. Personal experience: yes, some are immature but not more than on an average LARP or on your average workplace. Most airsofters on the other hand are responsible adults, having family and jobs like lawyers, dentists, police, engineers, IT-guys, medical-emergency-technician etc…
  3. The goggles are for your safety, the only part of your body that can be truly damaged by the BB pellets are your eyes. For immersion: Tactical goggles are all around the place in real MEMC.

a. Yes, granted that, but you could explore so much more if you are willing to let us take you on a whole new experience.

b. The exhaustion you feel is real, so it is real for your character, too. The outside world/experience is “bleeding in” your character.

c. You respawn as either “the new guy in the squad” (simple solution) or as one of the new guys of your former enemy (complicated, but more interesting solution)

photo by falkii.deviantart.com

THE SOLUTION

Big Airsoft events like Berget (Sweden: http://www.berget-events.com/) or Borderwar (Czech Republic: http://www.borderwar.cz/sites/) are perfect for simulating large MEMC. They often have elaborate background stories, but little to none “real” LARP. Just out of my mind some possible solutions to harvest that enormous potential. Feel free to copy and try those ideas or just comment or discuss!

  • Build a whole squad/platoon/company/battalion entirely of dedicated LARP players

and/or

  • Give each member of the unit a friend, a foe, a goal, a secret and a fate (not unlike a Soap-Larp; see the respective blogpost for more information)

Regarding death I see the following solutions:

  • every mission is a fresh start of a whole new campaign and a complete story of its own
  • When you die, you respawn as either “the new guy in the squad” (simple solution) or as one of the “new guys” of your former enemy (complicated, but more interesting solution)
  • you stay dead, the game is over for you (most immersive and most boring solution IMO)

photo by rjaniz.deviantart.com

This is primarily a blog post to discuss about, hopefully to inspire some. The huge potential that lies within large Airsoft events should not be wasted. Explorations of important topics regarding MEMC as discussed above are not only interesting for its own sake. These can lead us to rethink our own values, beliefs and morals, see how power and violence work and what price we pay for them. It has the potential to make us more aware of political processes and last but not least, ourselves.

Written by Martin Schuler

1 reply
  1. Thomas Steinbrenner
    Thomas Steinbrenner says:

    Good article.

    Concerning immersion and googles:
    I once forgot my googles at home, so I had to wear my gas mask for four days. It was immersive, warm (-3° to -18° C) and I got used to it quite soon and well. It gives this mild claustrophobic/sensory deprivation/body conscious effect which is rather interesting if you imagine playing in space or on a foreign planet.

    In essence: If you can’t go in on direction, try going into the other.

    Reply

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