Archive for the ‘LARP’ Category

ARG: another acronym to embrace before it destroys you

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

Many of you likely know all about I Love Bees, the mysterious site the URL for which was flashed briefly at the end of an online trailer for Microsoft’s upcoming first-person shooter Halo 2. You may also remember the promotional online puzzle games that tied in with Steven Spielberg’s A.I., which games came to be known collectively as “The Beast” and whose community of players called themselves the Cloudmakers. Rich with game-world detail, convincing characters and sometimes-fiendish puzzles, these alternate reality games, or ARGs, are… well… basically just LARPs. I Love Bees recently took another step closer to LARPhood when it not only challenged players to find and answer pay phones being called by an in-game AI, but anointed the answerers of certain calls with membership in the “crew” of the AI’s lost spaceship.

One player is not happy. Eric Burns laments that the collaboration with strangers in real time that made his experience in the Cloudmakers so compelling will be weakened and eventually destroyed by this singling out of a few lucky players. But collective-detection to unlock a story is basically How to Host a Murder – you can keep fiddling with the puzzles and the means of revelation, but you can’t disguise the fact that, after all the fire and motion, you are still just waiting for the next piece of story to consume. A story is not a game. ARGs are now making the leap from that model to the model of Mind’s Eye Theater – by adding actual gameplay. So far, it’s just the game of Prisoner’s Dilemma; do you, the individual, stick with the group, or do you defect? Other games are possible in ARGs, and we will no doubt see more than a few of those possibilities soon. The question is whether going from the How to Host a Murder model to the model of today’s LARPs will come with the same loss of accessibility – and popularity.

Laws harps on LARPs

Friday, July 16th, 2004

In his latest installment of See Page XX, Robin Laws points out the enormous popularity of LARPs in Hollywood these days (go on, think about it. I’ll wait). Laws goes on to compare TV’s version to the game convention version, with some interesting conclusions. In particular, he makes this statement: “I can see the creation of a cash-prize LARP circuit as a serious business opportunity for someone with the capital and vision to make it work.” Perhaps intentionally, Laws doesn’t mention True Dungeon, which has had player eliminations and significant prizes for a lucky winner from the get-go. Of course, True Dungeon doesn’t want to be called a LARP, so never mind.

The werewolves are like Spider-Man. There’s no infrin… um… oops

Friday, September 5th, 2003

I don’t actually know Gothic literature well enough to say whether the World of Darkness’ feud between vamps and werewolves is original. Nor have any of us seen the list that WW claims it has, the list of “60 points of unique similarity” between WoD material and the upcoming Kate Leatherpants film Underworld. In any case, the timing of this lawsuit’s announcement is a bit odd. Who is this supposed to be publicity for, anyway?

In other news, Orpheus, World of Darkness hardcover game number umpty-ump, actually looks kind of interesting: original, not overly tied to the rest of the world, still saddled with the misnamed Storyteller system but otherwise kinda Delta Green-ish and tasty-looking. I have every confidence that the next five books in the limited run of material to which Orpheus belongs will both A) be what brings about the announced end of the WoD, and B) hopelessly muddle what currently looks like a fun game. That doesn’t change that this book looks good, though.

Game of Powers at GenCon

Saturday, August 10th, 2002

Hogshead Publishing was proudly displaying both Nobilis, the world’s first coffee table RPG, and The Game of Powers, live-action rules for the Nobilis game. James Wallis was proudly showing the company’s wares, and provided general estimates on the amount of beer the crowd put back at the Diana Jones Awards ceremony a few nights night before. But I’ve sworn not to repeat the staggering amount, so mum’s the word here.

SCA Event – Wargy

Thursday, February 8th, 2001

The Society for Creative Anachronism ( is a medieval reenactment society that puts on events that range from feasts to giant wars in full armor. Wargy is a one day event on the 10th of February in San Jose, California, in the Kingdom of the West. The event is a day long Resurrection battle, in which participants who die can go back to a resurrection point and rejoin the carnage. The battlefield is a giant map, divided up into the various principalities of the Bay Area. War groups can hire mercenaries to fight with them for their prizes. E-mail the autocrat for directions.