Should LARPs ever be sexy?

larp girl

The Larp Girl photo used in the “Ladies of LARP” article. More at Flickr

The debate around sex in LARPs or sexiness at LARPs is an established one. There are passionate voices on both sides of the argument and underlying questions of just how women are treated by or seen as by the gaming community.

Following a drama elseblog around the objectification and cruel comments towards female LARPers Geek Native is fortunate enough to be able to talk to Kaza Marie, the LARP Girl, and gather her opinion.

What do you think? Be sure to leave your comments after the article.

You run the Larp Girl blog and vlog. Can you tell Geek Native a little bit about yourself and this project?

Absolutely! Larp Girl was a project that I began to share my thoughts on Live Action Role Play and offer advice to new players. I started out reviewing my favorite weapons, answering fan questions, showing the inside of my trunk and expressing what interested me in the hobby. As I went on, I began to learn a few helpful tricks and showed them to my following. I try to show people that LARP can be more than a game we play, but a style of art we can learn from and I always invite my subscribers to join me on the battlefield.

In your disclaimer video, sensibly titled “Larp Girl: The First Video You Should Ever Watch” you briefly make mention of getting hate mail. What sort of comment triggers hate mail when it comes to Larps?

Sometimes I will publish a video with my personal preference on Live Action Role Play. What attracts me about LARPing is fully immersing myself into the character. I enjoy the emotional experience that is often referred to as Nordic LARP. Although I enjoy every LARP event I attend, my most favorite ones are the events that focus on creating an environment that is believable. It is a more challenging style to play in. It means that players have to sacrifice what makes them comfortable and live through an experience they may not have wanted.

For example, I have made myself sick to replicate symptoms of early pregnancy and worn a body suit to appear to be with child. The experience was uncomfortable and made the LARP event so much harder, but in the end, the story was much more believable. The players around me got to react to my character, and because of that their character’s stories developed. I believe in full-contact LARPsor LARPs with highly immersion storytelling devises tend to give us the ability to learn about ourselves and other people.

I have received hate mail because I advocate for different play styles. I don’t look at LARP as a game but as a way of challenging myself. I don’t think that I player better, or fight harder. I just play for the fun and the stories. Because I am willing to take risks in LARP, both mentally and physically, it makes my voice controversial.

You helped draw attention to a post called “The Lovely Ladies of LARP” on Sloshspot. That post now seems to be withdrawn but can you summarize for us what the problem was and what happened?

larp-chicks

One of the unaccredited photos used. “Does using a condom mean you break character?” the article asked.

I am not sure of the intentions of the post. Usually the articles posted on Sloshspot are humorous, and although a lot of the comments were meant to be funny, they just did not sit well for the LARP community. For example, the photo of myself that was posted was of my elf character in the snow. The writer of the post asked if I was old enough to actually LARP and also mentioned that I looked more like a dwarf then an elf. What woman wouldn’t like to hear she looks younger? I also laughed that the writer called me a dwarf. My LARP family always jokes about my height. I am 5’1” and last I checked the Pathfinder Player’s Handbook and many other fantasy settings, elves are taller then humans. Using that information, I am usually the size of a very tall dwarf. I was just lucky that the writer didn’t call me a hobbit, although I wouldn’t mind a hobbit’s eating schedule.

The comments on my picture were funny, but not all of the women were as fortunate as me. Some were made fun of for their looks, while others were picked on for wearing skimpy clothing. It was unfortunate, because all of those women are beautiful inspiring LARP ladies. My comment to the writer was that more favor could be gained with chivalry then jests.

Sloshspot still has the article How to Pick up Girls at LARP Events live. Is that a better article?

I believe the intentions of the post were sweet. However, after reading the article it seemed the writer was more interested in teaching men how to trick LARP women into a one night stand. The writer of “How to Pick up Girls at LARP Events” and “LARP Ladies” was the same person and their ideas on LARP were very closed minded. To the writer we are just a bunch of “dorks” in the woods. But my views on our community is that we get to live our dreams. The warrior heroes most people look up to in comic books and video games we get to become.

Do you think anyone attends a LARP thinking about hooking up with someone or whether anyone designs LARP costumes with the intention of being sexy?

Of course some people will have those intentions in mind. If a player wants to use sex appeal at a LARP event, that players has my respect. It is alluring to play a charismatic character, because the nature is often the opposite of ourselves. It is a fantasy setting after all. In the recent movie Justice League: War, Wonder Woman is startled when a group of protesters call her a whore. Using her Lasso of Truth, she finds out that the leader of the mob cross dresses in a wonder woman outfit at night because it makes him feel powerful. She replies, “Embrace your truth my friend, my outfit makes me feel powerful too”. I do not think that it is Wonder Woman’s curves that make her feel powerful, but the fact that the lack of armor means the harder she has to fight. She wears very little protection but she can rival Superman.

As for hook ups at LARP events. It happens. It is the same as any other place. Like minded individuals getting together for a weekend of fun. Sometimes people make connections. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it, I just hope everyone is being safe and causing turmoil. I have found some of my best friends through LARP, and seen many find their life partners. Players will find that emotional connections in play can be just as meaningful as out of play.

The internet is full sexy cosplay pictures. Do you think similar designs would ever be suitable for a LARP?

witch-elf-armor-larp-lederruestung-schwarz--10272

Sloshspot used this picture but so did Geek Native here.

Different LARP will offer players with different challenges. For example, most full-contact LARPs only allow armor to protect you in the places it covers. This would mean a breast plate made to show off cleavage would not work as well on the battlefield. One quick stab to the heart and that player would be sitting at the respawn pool. Though some LARPs will allow armor as long as it covers most of that body part. That is typically seen at light combats. Female Fantasy Armor is not practical for fighting in. It leaves places of weakness just for the sake of sex appeal. I prefer to be fully covered in armor, it leaves more to the imagination.

As for general revealing costumes, such as belly-dancers, wenches and the forest nymphs, do what the setting allows. In a strict medieval setting woman wouldn’t dress in revealing clothes and would use other methods to appear attractive, such as Courtly Love. In the fantasy setting we can have a bit more leeway in costume design. It is fun to be the object of desire, but be more then that. I encourage women to dress the way they want, that makes them feel as powerful as their character.

Are there photographs of acceptably sexy LARP costumes?

I think that all of the costumes are acceptable. Men and Women should never feel ashamed of their sexuality. Embrace it! A sexy costume might get a player killed on the battlefield but I think the worth comes from the fun in wearing it. Sexy costumes at LARP are enjoyed by everyone, some a little more then others and having photographs only makes the memory last longer. Though for some players, LARPing is a private hobby. Curtsey and communication goes a long way. So photographers or players taking pictures should always remember to ask the owners of the LARP for permission as well as the players themselves.

Some suggested examples; TanoVerya, Ryzhervind, Lairfey, HappyBunnyRudy and Sindeon.

Is it wrong to want LARPs to be completely asexual? Can’t the hobby be family safe escapism?

I think that there should always be the option for both. Nero offers a family safe involvement for children to play in. Though some of the other games have mature content in their plot lines or character backgrounds. As an adult, I enjoy playing at both, but prefer the creative freedom that a mature LARP. Just like movies and video games, there are age requirements to protect the players from offensive content. In Denmark young adults host small LARP events for children to teach them how to make camp, how to fight and how to make their character. It gives the children a place to learn how to play and prepare them for the big fights. In that setting, they do not have to worry about any mature content and the children get to learn how to LARP. I would never want to expose a child to something they are not ready for, but would not want to restrict an adult from the freedom of choice. Offering both types of LARP is a good way to make sure everyone enjoys themselves.

What tips do you have to ensure that people have fun at a LARP, are able to engage in compelling costumed storytelling and without feeling uncomfortable.

My biggest tip is to play a character similar to yourself or at least a version of yourself that fits into the setting and is fun. Players should not worry about portraying the “Last Dragon King”. It is impossible to play something that outrageous and make it believable. A character’s dreams and motivations should not be unrealistic out of reach for them. Read over the setting of the LARP event, and see what kind of person would come from that world. Take things from your past, change up the words and make that a part of the character. For example, I went to horseback riding school as a child. I am very good at riding a horse. Though I am not a horse expert, I can muster up enough knowledge to put into a character history that I was road for tournaments. When I bring up my character’s past my actual knowledge makes the character more interesting.

LARP can also be used as an outlet to learn new things. An alchemist or wanderer would know a few things about the local animals and plants. Read up on the wildlife and forest and bring that to the character. The local herbalist or cook could offer that advice to other players on how to deter mosquitoes with garlic. Learning new things and sharing them are great conversation pieces. My favorite times at events are building barricades around the tents and sharing stories about moments in my character’s life. I always strive to become the person I am playing. So I encourage players who are creating their costumes and characters to not pretend to be the warrior, become the warrior.

  • Share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Geek Native's Google+ Page.
3 comments
ssgt_nelson_jarrod
ssgt_nelson_jarrod

I think it depends on the situation and the LARP.  If the LARP is meant to 'act' out a new life/character/world, sure sexiness should be allowed as long as the person is comfortable with it.  If it is, however, expected that someone act in a manner that they aren't comfortable then it is wrong.  But if someone wants to play a 'sexy' elf or a super buff barbarian why shouldn't they?  The purpose of LARP is to be someone you wouldn't normally be and free yourself from the societal norms out there, and sex is one such thing!

JaredHansen
JaredHansen

Nice article, thanks Kaza and Geeknative

AndrewGirdwood
AndrewGirdwood moderator

@ssgt_nelson_jarrod I think that's well argued. I've seen the comment that the purpose of a LARP is to cooperate and coordinate with others - it's a mutual event first and foremost. The alternative argument is that a LARP isn't about you so it's not about what you get to do.


As you say, though, "... as long as the person is comfortable with it" is surely an important safety net!

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