Thursday, October 27, 2011

LARP on the History Channel

LARP has a long running tradition of looking bad in larger scale forms of media. On the other hand, there's been plenty of local editorial pieces that have been very kind, providing informational content on games without making the players look like weirdos.

There's an opportunity going around the internet, regarding a show that the History Channel will be making. It's a show about LARPs, probably covering different groups around the country.

People are afraid, and rightly so.

You see, the casting director is the same person who did casting for Wife Swap. And anyone who has watched Wife Swap should know that they don't have a habit of painting the participants in a good light.

However, the same group has also done casting for shows like Pawn Stars or Missouri Truck Stop, which aren't too bad. And the show is going to be done by the History Channel.

I personally think that we should do our best to put a good foot forward and try and participate, while asking them what they intend for the program (without being too pushy).

If anyone is interested in contacting the casting director, send an email to and I'll give the contact info.

New TV Project Will Feature Role Playing Groups From Across The Country!

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Danielle Gervais. I'm a Casting Producer based in New York City and I'm currently casting an exciting new tv project that will be dedicated to Live Action Role Play and the groups and individuals who participate in it! We're searching the country for the most dynamic, interesting and dedicated groups of players and we're open to all types of live action role play, both fantasy and historic. If you'd like to learn more, please don't hesitate to contact me!

I look forward to speaking with you!

All My Best,



From the Producer’s of History Channel’s Pawn Stars comes a brand new show dedicated to Historic and/or Fantasy Role Play and the people who love it (and live it!)

We’re searching the country for a passionate and talented group of Historic and/or Fantasy Live Action Role Play participants to feature on this new series, which will follow them as they battle their way from city to city. If you or someone you know would be interested in participating in a TV Project dedicated 100% to Historic and/or Fantasy Live Action Role Play, we want to hear from you!

Please email us with some photos, a brief description of yourself and your group and why you’d be perfect for this show! Don’t forget to include your contact information.


  1. I was contacted by them over a year and a half ago, some email. I think it might be a scam, maybe t is just taking a while. But I did have some correspondence with them and it was clear they are not looking to do a positive LARP story, they were specifically looking for people that will show it in a bad light. It is part of a series that shows people with strange obsessions.

  2. One of the guys on the LARP Academia board I'm with contacted Danielle with questions and concerns we had. According to him, it looks like the project isn't going to be as bad as all that. But he did suggest that we should help them by letting them know our philosophies on LARP to help direct the show.

  3. And yet, the thing that Joe V. just posted on the NERO forums blows all that out of the water.

    I am back to being concerned.

  4. Somehow they also got the Exiles creator's email, even though it's not associated with us anymore. He wrote them back to explain his concerns, and pointed out that apparently they also did "Swamp People"...Admiral Akbar would have something to say!

  5. I am sure that is the same woman I spoke to a long time ago and after speaking with her was not interested. I would approach this with caution. I do not think it will provide good publicity for LARP and having our business tied to it could do more harm than good.
    Any benefit we may see from it we will get whether our particular business is tied to it or not. If someone is interested in a LARP that we run they will start with a search just as they did after Role Models and find us. My position is to stay away from this.

  6. Its hard to say what their agenda is because we don't know the true angle of the show-to-be.

    But since it will be for mainstream TV, and larping is still a fringe hobby and considered "bizarre" by most normal folks, I'll bet they're going to play up the weirdness angle. I think they'll focus on the nerdiest/geekiest (and thus, most interesting to the average viewer) players and games, and showcase the weirdest behavor they can film.

    Having said that, if its truly going to be on the History Channel, they may at least try to be classy about it and show it in at least a neutral light.

    However, the above letter says "From the Producer’s of History Channel’s Pawn Stars". That doesn't necessarily mean its going to be on the History Channel, or that the producers will treat it at all the same way.

    I have hopes, but I'm wary.

  7. I just spoke to Danielle on the phone. I definitely agree this this is not a project anyone wants their game to be involved in.

    Here's the rundown:

    They are looking for 5 individuals that will go together as a group to live combat LARPs in different genres (Fantasy, Vampire, Sci-Fi, etc.) to "battle."

    In order to maintain interest and consistency between the shows, each member of the group would fill a different archetypal role, such as warrior, healer, etc.

    The "battles" would not take place at an actual game, which I suppose means that they would be staged in some way. They would also be small. Danielle said that she couldn't put 50 people on camera, for example.

    I'm guessing they're looking for groups to run staged module-based combat or something.

    On the surface, this may seem palatable. Your group gets some air time, it gets to be in a setting where you can focus on production value, the "dream team" gets to showcase the rules of the gaming system, how it works, how people play, etc.

    However high-minded it may be, the concept seems to be fueled by rampant stereotyping. I think it will give the false impression that LARPing is just about fighting. It will almost entirely detract from the role-playing part of live action role-playing.

    Danielle feels that viewers will be able to connect with the arche(stereo)typal members of the "team" because their "characters" would be consistent from game to game, effectively boxing LARP participants in general into tired D&D stereotypes.

    I'm assuming too that she would want to highlight relationships between the team members. She wants one person to the be "leader," for example. Of course there's also the implication that the "team" is made up of the best, most experienced LARPers in the country, meaning that they stand as the pinnacle of LARPing excellence and as standards against which all others in the hobby should be judged. Is Joe Valenti the pinnacle of American LARPing excellence?

    And then there's the 'unforseen' things that might develop during production: unkind comparisons between gaming systems, the 'winning' team members verbally dumping on the game's participants, etc.

    And ultimately, no matter how a LARP organization attempts to guide and direct the show, the appearance of their game, the appearance of their participants, the appearance of the community, and the appearance of the hobby at large; there's no telling what is going to happen on the cutting room floor. There's no telling what the producers might think is going to drive ratings.

    Danielle does not know much of anything about Live Action Role Playing, and it does not seem to me from our conversation that she is at all seriously interested in learning more about it. She professes a desire to be respectful and work with organizers to make this a positive experience at the same time that she's talking about relegating the show to a series of battles across the country fought by "dream team" of stereotypes constructed to enable audiences to 'get' what LARPing is.

    Stay wary. Tell your friends. Help make the community aware of what is going on here.