Thursday, December 8, 2011

Too Old to LARP?

Hitting a life milestone reminds most people that they're leaving one phase of life and entering another. Obviously there's more to age than a number or a single life event. But it still makes you think. There are things that are targeted towards certain age groups that you aren't a member of anymore and often you start to notice the generation gap.

LARP, in many games, is one of those things. I've observed that a LARP is generally made up of younger people. I’m not talking about just the physical aspect. LARPing has largely been built on people with extra time and disposable income. Those folks are often in their 20’s, have their own means of income, and don’t yet have kids & houses. But what happens when you get older, or when you do have a career, house and/or kids?

How old is too old to LARP?

The best answer is probably that you're too old when you stop being interested and when it stops being fun. Time shifts things around, and things that come with getting older can also lead to a loss of interest.

First, there's the demands on your time. When you have more free time, it's easier to keep up to date on things like rules and in-game happenings. And once you lose track of what's going on, it's hard to go back knowing you're out of touch :) Also, having more free time means that you don't mind as much using those weekends to LARP instead of to keep touch with friends & family, go to your kids' events, and do upkeep on your house. When you've got less time to do all those other things weekends can be more precious.

Returning player policies and rules change digests can help by making the return more attractive. Plot people can also nudge information the way of the returning player, so they're not completely behind on things their characters should know about. And those players should be honest with what they take on, too. If they don't have a lot of free time, it's probably best not to volunteer for too much.

People form friendships at a LARP, and a lot of folks who start playing do so with a group. If those friends lose interest, move away, or just don't have time, it's not as fun for a remaining player to keep going. It can be awkward to try to buddy up with folks a few decades your junior. Active player communities and a welcoming atmosphere can help, but this is hard to control. Game coordinators can consider holding get-togethers outside of events to help people get to know each other better.

And then there's just the general idea that as you get older, your tastes change. Things that interest us as a kid, teen, and young adult are often left behind as our lives go forward. Or you just plain get bored. A lot of LARPers have something that drives them to play, though, and by keeping that spark alive they can retain interest. In a lot of people, this is the desire to live out a great story, or defeat a challenge. So by keeping your plot and encounters fresh, creating an immersive atmosphere and trying new things, game staff can help things from getting stale.

Despite all this, though, I wonder if there's a point where you just grow out of it? Or when it IS just a little weird for the younger folks to see you there? I remember being new and giving some older players a questioning look. Now, there are some people who are awkward at any point, and some people whose ages you don't even notice. But I wonder if younger people think it's a little weird to play with people their grandparents' age? Or if older people feel awkward trying to keep up with the young'uns? :) Or is LARPing truly fun for all ages, as long as you're interested?

What do you think? Do you plan to keep playing forever? If so, how will you keep things interesting?


  1. Fun for all ages. Go as long as interest and fun drives you. If its not fun, dont go. You'll end up making everyone around you not have fun. Goes for management too. If it isnt fun anymore, thats the time to quit. Maybe come back someday fresh and more in the spirit of the game. If people have a problem with age then its their problem. Not the games'. Just look at that dude whos 50ish and just started on a college football team. Physical age don't mean poop. Your as young as you feel. Course, I might be bias, being 30 with kids and all. Besides, we need more dudes that actually look like the great old guy and dont need to physrep a gnarly grey beard. Gandalf's wru'z?

  2. My plan, when I get too old to run around like a goof, is to switch my mystic wood elf as my primary.

    Having loads and loads of Craftsmans... (unless National's declared C/Os to be cheating by then), I can sit around and be the wise old sage that the next generation comes to for advise.

    "The Great Frazzle monster? I think I remember that thing. Yes yes, I believe fire is most affective against it. Have you tried that? I remember he time..."

    And I can sit around and make magic items. I fancy myself to be 1 part Eliminster / 1 part Q (the Bond one, not the Trek one).

  3. Having loads and loads of Craftsmans... (unless National's declared C/Os to be cheating by then), I can sit around and be the wise old sage that the next generation comes to for advise.

    Won't happen if I have something to say about it.

    Oh yeah. I do.

  4. Mark Henry ~MariusDecember 8, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    I found my interest have changed now at 27 from when I was 14.

    At 14 it was all about combat and PvP. At 27 I enjoy those things but the story is more important to me now (which may be why I am enjoying NPC'ing more than PC'ing now).

    Growing older and having a baby I have found my time limited as well as cash. My chapter however is free to NPC so 1 problem solved.

  5. I actually found LARPing at the tender age of 40 BECAUSE of my age. The activities Id been doing (hockey goalie, milsim airsoft) began to take a toll that made them cease being fun. Larp is a nice fit as you can always find a reason through RP'ing NOT to go all out if you have too.

  6. I grew up in a closely-knit multi-generational community in coastal Maine. When I started college, it was weird to be around people who were, mostly, the same age as me. LARPing has been refreshing-- I enjoy the range of ages of players. It makes it interesting. Also, to get touchy-feely for a minute, the age-range contributes to the sense of community. (Even though Accelerant doesn't allow minors, the amount of people having babies has, indirectly, extended the LARP community to the LARP-kids.)
    I only play Accelerant, but, at least in that system, I feel like the multi-generational "community for all ages" adds to IG and OoG atmosphere. I don't think people should allow the wheel of time to discourage them from LARPing.

  7. My first NERO event got me hooked courtesy of the late Florence Pyne- who was already well into her 60's when I met her back in 1992.

    And I'm pushing 40. No intention on stopping, she didn't. LARPing's for anyone who can keep up with it.