When the Game Carries Over

That in-game emotions sometimes spill over into the out of game world is one of the hazards of LARPing.  Say someone kills your character in-game, knowing that in doing so, they’re causing your character to lose stats.  Would you bear them ill-will once the event is over?

I always thought my answer would be no.  After all, it’s the risk of conflict, penalty and the unknown plot point that makes LARP exciting.  But a few months ago I learned otherwise.

I went to my second Knight Realms event where I met a certain character whom I initially enjoyed.  But over the course of the evening, he told me I was a terrible priest who should leave my religion to follow him.  I felt genuinely annoyed, and I was surprised when during a break he came up to me and introduced himself out of character and explained that his character is annoying, but that in real life, he’s not.

The weird thing was that my feeling of annoyance stayed with me even though we were out of character, evidence, perhaps, that the division I personally draw between the in-game and out-of game worlds is not substantial enough. That I found it difficult to let go of those feelings of annoyance surprised me — I know it’s all just a game, but the emotions stayed irrationally with me.

I wonder how more seasoned LARPers deal with the division between in game and out of game feelings.  It’s not as easy as it sounds…

2 thoughts on “When the Game Carries Over

  1. No matter how long you’ve been LARPing the division between OOC and IC is a blurry one. You can be playing with people who have been your friends for years, sharing your greatest and worst moments in real life ™, but if you are truly invested in your character, when they do something to that persona it can sting.

    A few years back I was playing in a LARP with a character that I really enjoyed portraying. Due to plot elements that had come through the game, my character died and I found myself quickly running through the stages of greif:

    “No, he’s not dead, the storyteller is going to tell me he’s not dead any minute. I can’t believe this, I spent so much on this costume! No, wait, I forgot about some ability I have that can save me; its here somewhere. Oh man, I don’t know if I want to play anymore. No, its cool, this was a good way to go out.”

    I’ve had friends burst into tears at the death of a character. I’ve loathed people for months because I’m sure that even though everyone who knows him says he’s not like that in real life, he’s obviously just hiding it well. Incidently, this person is now a very good friend. I’ve even felt almost high after being the cause of a good death of another character, knowing that all the plotting came off as I wanted it to.

    Its never easy.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I spent a while talking to you this weekend (B. Yhatzi). I promise I’m not stalking you, I found this website on a google search for Knight Realms on my lunch and then started reading.

    • Yeah — it’s a hard thing to figure out for me, particularly as I don’t understand what constitutes “normal” interaction in a LARP. I thought it was a good idea for this person to come chat me up during an out of game moment — it really revealed my irritation for what it was to me, which is the first step in moving past it.

      I liked chatting you up this weekend. Glad you found the site.