Lizzie Stark would rather be in a live action role-play than sit on the couch playing video games. And really, who can blame her? Stark’s recently published book Leaivng Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role Playing Games dives deep into the culture of larping and exposes this cultural phenomenon as deeply rooted in history, as socially intriguing, and as a whole lot of fun.
Stark sheds light on the historical influences on larping, revealing that even Queen Elizabeth I was known to dress up and impersonate characters. She explores the elaborate ceremonies of Tudor England and the current role-playing tactics of American military training, showing how these practices have influenced the games we see today. By examining role-playing from multiple angles, Stark demystifies the subculture for the curious reader.
The author takes an admirable participatory approach to her research. Stark initially began her reporting as an observer, but quickly became a player herself.”The true genius of larp is that it requires a first person audience”, Stark said in a feature with the BBC. (See the video here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17914502)
Over an 18-month period, Stark traveled to and engaged in different larping communities to conduct her research. She was not at all shy about donning costumes or makeup, and created her own characters to fully engage with her subject matter. Readers can follow her as she explores this gaming subculture.
The author had no shortage of personal adventure while experiencing larp for the first time. Her book description outlines the excitement she went through over those 18 months. “Along the way, I duel foes with foam-padded weapons, let the demon Cthulhu destroy my parents’ beach house, and survive an existential awakening brought on by Scandinavia’s avant-garde larp scene.” (Book Description, http://lizziestark.com/leaving-mundania/)
For an insider perspective on the different kinds of larp and to read about Lizzie’s experience, take a look through Leaving Mundania. It can be purchased at Amazon.com, or you can read more about her book and download a free chapter at www.lizziestark.com.