When I was eighteen, any time I couldn’t make a LARP weekend felt like a cardinal sin. I wasn’t able to escape; I wasn’t able to spend time with my friends or do the cool things that they were going to do. I wouldn’t see the story, and I feared the story would move on without me. I did everything in my power to make it to a LARP weekend, and it often put myself in less-than-great real life positions because I felt like I needed to be at game. There were years where I went to 32+ weekend events out of a 52 week year. Of those games, I couldn’t tell you how many I should have considered my self-care before heading to an event.
Don’t get me wrong – LARPing is super, super important to me. But it took me a long time to realize that my body and mind and bank account have value too. No matter what, it’s okay not to LARP. Your game and your community aren’t going away; the stories will be there, the people will, and you can step back in when it’s better for you to play. But before you start prepping for a weekend, make a mental checklist for yourself on if you’re ready to attend.
Am I Sick?
This is the #1, Forever & Ever Into Eternity rule: if you are sick, don’t come to game. If you’re physically sick, you have a risk of not only further hurting yourself but also getting others around you sick, and even if you practice good habits at game like washing your hands or not sharing food, all it takes is a couple slip-ups to get a community infected with whatever is effecting you.
Your body is also busy fighting that sickness and it might not do as good as a job taking care of itself, and you’ll need to be more conscious of what you’re eating and drinking – and we all know how easy it is to get carried away with a cool scene at game and forget the real life needs of our bodies. If you are feeling even a little bit sick, skip the weekend; we want you to physically enjoy the game you’re playing without being a risk to yourself and others.
As a Game Organizer, I have a small seed of fear in my heart that no amount of antibacterial wipes can fix. The Seed&Sword team just came back from Downfall and it rocked our whole household into a week of sickness. Even in my position, I try to do everything in my power not to come to game sick, even if it means shifting around responsibilities so my team and my players don't get ill. The last thing we as a community want is to effect people's real life health and jobs.
Am I Prepared?
In this case, I want you to think of prepration outside of your gear and more of your mentality. If you’re in a bad headspace, LARPing can be a harsh world to put your mind into. It might seem cathartic to escape into a different person for a weekend, b
ut the content of your LARP might challenge you into a place where you’re actually worse off. If you’re not in a place to enjoy the experience of that LARP, think about taking the weekend off.
My favorite (least favorite?) example was one weekend when I was super depressed. My cat was dying and I thought I needed the distraction. But going into a LARP weekend of strife and conflict and seeing the people I cared about die only trigger my anxiety and depression to get that much worse. I should have stayed home, and I dragged a lot of my friends down with me in the process.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. It’s easy to put it as secondary or on the back shelf, but it can be the difference between a weekend of healthy catharsis and unintentionally pushing yourself to worse mental places.
Can I Afford It?
I know, this is a hard question to ask, especially when you’ve checked the ‘yes’ box to the other three. But if going to game means not being able to eat healthy for a week, you’re doing yourself a favor by recognizing when to take a step back. Sometimes game costs sneak up on you, and when you convince yourself that the game fee itself is affordable, that often includes other, smaller costs – getting to game, food for the weekend, afters with friends. I cannot tell you the amount of times I convinced myself I could afford game only to come away from a weekend completely broke.
For most LARPs, NPCing is an option with less of the expense and you’ll be able to earn yourself something in the process. If you have some wiggle room in your finances, it might be worth looking into this option, but your Game Organizers want you to be in a place where you can afford to play game without stressing yourself or your budget out.
Will I Have Fun?
This is sort of an abstract question, but most LARPing is ultimately about having fun. If your friends are trying to get you to go to an event that you know isn't your cup of tea, or that has content that you don't like, or has people you don't want to deal with, you don't have to go. Additionally, it is entirely possible to be burnt out on LARPing -- and pushing yourself when you don't have the engagement or energy to LARP can actually damage your enjoyment on a more long term level. If you go into an event already prepared to dislike the content or if you're ready to not have any fun, it's a whole additional barrier to conquer before you can let yourself enjoy the game.
I used to get really stressed and anxious when my friends would invite me to LARP events, or even parties or social events, that I knew I wouldn't like. I didn't want to disappoint them or make them think I didn't care, and I put myself in so many uncomfortable positions by virtue of it, not to mention wasting time and money on something I wasn't prepared to enjoy. It is okay to tell people no to LARP events you don't want to attend. Don't let anyone pressure you into a game that you aren't going to like. I know saying no to your friends can be stressful, but building those boundaries for yourself saved my ass when I got older. Now I say no to everything. I'm a regular No King.
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