After observing a lack of sexism at many LARPs, I’ve questioned whether sexism in LARP is even a real issue. Having attended a half-dozen different games in my region (NJ and PA) in the past five years,* I have never observed overtly sexist behavior towards women. In fact, male and female staff members at these games have only made me feel empowered about the character I want to play – whether warrior or wizard. Even my least favorite LARP did not have this problem.
Unfortunately, some LARPers still use sexist language when discussing the hobby. Larp Girl did this (and offered an apology for it), but the original video and apology video have many comments from viewers advising her critics to ‘man up’ and look past stringent safety rules, which many LARPers cannot do for legal reasons or do not wish to do out of concern for personal safety. Beyond the differences in opinion on safety, the sexist language is extremely discouraging, especially towards new players.
Successful and inclusive game organizations realize the following:
Commerce can drive acceptance. If a LARP wants to make money (as a business) or even out (as a non-profit), game organizers should want to welcome female players. Most people want to socialize and feel comfortable in a co-ed environment.
Couples LARP. Lots of gamer couples LARP together. I’ve always been a collaborative writer and role player, but I didn’t learn about LARPing until I started dating a LARPer (now my husband). Couples don’t always necessarily LARP together, but after a long work week, the last thing you want is to see your time divided between your partner and your favorite hobby. Why not LARP together?
Female players and characters are assets to the game. No more or less than any other player, girls and women contribute to games and immersive environments.
As a community, LARPers are generally open and inclusive. I am free to learn more about myself through portraying a character. Doing that sort of thing in front of others is brave and risky, and it takes a certain amount of trust to fully commit and allow others to witness your journey (as you witness theirs).
The online community of LARPers is more expansive, which is great – what a good way to find about other LARP styles! However, it is not necessarily as welcoming to all female players, and it is sometimes difficult to understand tone through written language. While everyone is free to hold his or her own opinion, it’s worth considering how others will feel before you post. Do you really want people to feel unwelcome at your game?
Are you a female looking for a safe and welcoming place to discuss LARP online? Check out The Larpettes on Facebook. Also, everyone is welcome in the LARP Alliance Facebook group.
*As always, I understand that this is a limited experience both geographically and in terms of sample size. The small sample size is in part due to my status as a staff member of a game during that time, which helped me gain experience and opinions in other avenues of LARPing.
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Note: The opinions presented here are solely representative of the LARP Examiner and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or ideals of any games or organizations in which she is a member or participant.