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Kickstarter Alert: Guard Up! Youth LARP Program

Kickstarter Alert: Guard Up! Youth LARP Program

foam-weaponsLast Sunday, I took my two sons to our local park. While my 2-year-old played on the standard playground equipment, my 7-year-old was transfixed by a group of older teens gathered around picnic tables at a nearby grassy area of the park. Armed with a variety of foam-based weapons, these teens were huddled into groups and occasionally broke out in battle.

Being my son, he was no stranger to these foam weapons. He’d made his own at GenCon about three years ago and pretty much every time we go into the local gaming/comic shop, he makes a beeline for them. His latest fixation is on a well-constructed foam mace.

But this group of boys (for they were almost all boys) weren’t just hitting each other. No, they were doing something else. They were talking to each other. They were playing a game. They were telling a story. That, I think, fascinated him as much as the foam weapons.

And that, ultimately, is the bigger point of playing in a live action roleplaying (LARP) game. A recent Kickstarter project highlights this very well. The Massachusetts-based youth LARP program Guard Up! has 4 days left to gather the remaining funds to create a licensing program which will allow people to buy licenses on their story-based educational program. As of this moment, they need about $2,000 more, but also have some good stretch goals if they can beat that funding.

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Darkon

Darkon

darkon_tstAs a follow-up to last week’s post on Escapism, I give you Darkon (2006), a low-budget documentary¬† by Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer that raises some of the same questions I did in my post as it looks at one particular group of LARPers (Live-Action Role-Players) involved in a game that has become its own little reality. Following the lives of a few key players in the drama, the documentary (which I watched free on Hulu after John Ottinger pointed it out, though it is also available from snag films) chronicles their in-game and out-of-game struggles, and how these facets of their lives intertwine.

If your initial reaction to adults pelting each other with foam swords is to roll your eyes, that’s probably even more reason to watch this documentary, which is a sympathetic and nuanced look at the lives of these players. Firstly, the film is presented as a real struggle for ‘in-game power’ between its two central characters, leaders of rival ‘countries.’ These competing factions of Darkon chart their progress in wars that allow them to expand across a map, and one faction, the nakedly imperialistic Mordom, has had more success at this than the rest. Feeling threatened, other countries lead by Laconia, band together to fight them.

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