The more I hear other women accused of fitting the ‘fake geek girl’ stereotype, the more I love my nerdy niche known as LARPing (live action role playing). While issues surrounding women in LARP do exist, most of them can be overcome in a safe, appropriate environment.
Negative stereotypes do exist about women who LARP. I’ve heard multiple assumptions about female LARPers’ sexualities (ranging from “she must never get laid because she’s such a nerd” to “she’s probably a slut”) and personalities based upon their LARPer status. However, I find less of this treatment compared to other traditionally geeky forums:
- In a comic book store, I was browsing through some “Thor” comics and was told by a male employee that I should ask my big brother if I want to get into comics. (What didn’t he realize? I was 31, wearing a S.H.I.E.L.D. shirt and professionally writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)
- My friend Tina is a console gamer who gets similar treatment when she pre-orders or purchases FPS games at some video game stores.
It’s nice to have a refuge from the modern world of comic books when I head to my favorite medieval fantasy LARP.
The right environment
Of course, not every LARP is female-friendly or focused on equality. LARPs are just like any other clubs, hobbies or groups – some are more accepting than others. However, many LARP participants, organizers and innovators are young and female, meaning LARP environments are sometimes more progressive and accepting.
Additionally, LARP actually gives us the opportunity to work through some issues and problems we encounter in the real world (gender or otherwise). The Nordic LARP style is likely the most efficient medium for this, although I’ve seen it done in other forums. For example, I’m pretty small and not much of a fighter type, but in a well-balanced LARP world involving magic, I’m just as important as a fighter of the same level – kind of like a woman in combat with an M-16. Does it really matter if I’m a foot shorter or can’t bench press as much as you if I can do the same amount of damage?
Getting back to the ‘fake geek girl’ thing…
Most LARPs are about community and participation. Without players, they wouldn’t exist, and an influx of new players is necessary for LARPs’ survival and growth, which is especially important to games running monthly.
New players are often the most dedicated. Many women (like myself) decided to come to a LARP because their boyfriend was involved in the hobby, only to find themselves more dedicated to the game than their partner in the long run.
If you’re a female just wanting to check out a game, that’s all you need – just a desire to try the game. It doesn’t matter if you’re going with a friend, there out of random curiosity or consider yourself geeky – you don’t need any of these labels to LARP.
What are your experiences and observations about women in LARP? Please leave your comments below!